Unintentional

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.

Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A more modern translation of this verse is softer, substituting the word discouragement for dismay.

I know now that to be dismayed is a more serious state, more knocked off your feet kind of feel than discouraged.

To be dismayed is to have a sudden loss of courage.

I am thoughtful over this definition. To be dismayed means to me, to be on the brink of defeat or uncertainty because of an unexpected thing.

The photo taken last week while training the puppy was accidental and unintentional.

I’m certain it was because of me adjusting the leash or preparing to control him as we got closer to the fluffy dog behind the neighbor’s fence.

I must’ve swapped hands worn out by his yanking and I guess my finger grazed the phone.

Anyway, I find the image drawing me in, the complexity of the soft and hard ground, the leaves crisp and scattered, just a glimpse of my forward foot and the puppy’s tongue.

We are in training .

We keep on, the shift underneath us so barely noticeable, the shift within us not forceful.

God changing the within in gradual ways.

Surrender is not sudden.

Drawing nearer to God is neither disdain, discouragement or dismay.

It’s simple. It is a soft and secret self-discipline stirred together with sweet encounters of peace.

Peace that is not sudden, is a steady undercurrent like creek to river, sandy path to the main road.

There, I’ve defined it now, the drawing of my eye to the random photo.

The unintentional picture on my phone, peace is what it captures.

Now I know.

I know peace, courage, standing quietly strong.

Not dismayed now.

May be soon. I pray not.

And even if, my heart will be more ready, not be stolen away.

I’ve got peace in my soul, in the ground beneath my feet.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

You’re Movin’ Too Fast

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

On Monday, the weather was cool and all day long, the sky was grey with thick theatrical draping, the clouds seemed so heavy.

I watched through the windows that day, we stayed inside.

A beautiful bird visited.

If we’d have ventured out, we might have walked for miles, found ourselves in the place where the cornfield was being cut down.

We might have worried the neighborly man plopped in the big machinery, the one who’d been working all morning tending his field.

You could hear it all day muffled, way off from the back porch, the machinery and the voices, someone giving instructions.

A pause and then the noise of work again.

Getting the season’s work done.

If Monday morning had been led by different thoughts, I would have jumped from the couch, waking up a startled and half asleep five month old.

She, most likely would have gazed towards me and her blue eyes would have softened all at the same time they met the face of mine, her grandma.

She would have smiled.

We might have hurried out onto the porch. I’d have had her little bottom cupped under my arms, holding tight in the way I like to hold her.

The way that lets her see the whole wide world.

We might have watched and then kept seeking, walking quickly and carefully into the open field.

But, we didn’t.

We didn’t go chasing hoping to be closer to what got my attention.

We didn’t follow and end up lost in the deep country woods.

A hawk was on the porch that morning.

Elizabeth slept and I saw it. It lingered only long enough for me to see its shadow and the broad wing.

I only experienced the knowledge of its presence, not close enough to capture on my phone and share or to sit close beside.

The hawk made its presence known.

I noticed God.

We rested, didn’t go off crazy chasing a photo for Instagram.

I was content that the grand bird was near.

That’s how God is.

Notice. Listen.

You will see, not everything all at once, tiny glimpses and assuring hints.

Things you will never fully know.

Touch or see up close.

God is always near.

On Tuesday, the day was different, warm and bright blue.

We walked down pine needle littered trails and the baby dozed while I pushed through dry dirt down the familiar road.

We ended up at the back porch and her eyes opened when I rested. The snoozing baby awakened, looked up.

We lingered outside long enough to see the wide and majestic dark wings against the heavens.

The hawk returned and was content above us and us, content below.

I’m moving slower now.

The vertigo episode of a couple of weeks ago with no determined cause requires a thoughtful pace.

I still am humbled by it all, the way of God getting my notice.

Causing me to take nothing for granted.

Strange, the lesson of it, the clean bill of physical health causing consideration of mental.

It makes no other sense.

A word came, “frenetic”.

A word I do not think I’d ever used.

As I thought it, eventually said it, it felt extreme.

Still does.

After all, I am retired, have no heavy responsibilities or pressured roles.

Or do I?

I worry that my hope will run out of time, be cut off.

The list I made today, it surprised me, pressure self imposed.

The idea of do everything now, you are aging, you might never see your dream come true, the dream of your private soul, the ones involving art

And words. The ones your mind is all tangled up in, dangerously entangled maybe.

fre·net·ic
/frəˈnedik/
adjective
  1. fast and energetic in a rather wild and uncontrolled way “a frenetic pace of activity”

Where was this pace?

In the place between my ears that led to that incapacitated dizziness?

I’m not sure what I’ll accomplish today.

It’s already mid morning.

I have many irons in the fire of my creative passion. Sparks are sparking, wheels turning.

Slow down, don’t let them fall off the rims, note to self.

I have a following now.

I have orders and commissions and I have writing opportunities.

I will proceed at a pace that doesn’t say wait or quit or run harder, just says keep going, keep going.

Pause and rest.

Don’t chase.

Don’t stress.

Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to. Don’t have it your way or nothing at all…you might find you’re moving too fast.

I love the mind God gave me.

One that writes stories of adventures that tell the tale of chasing after a hawk then settles itself for the lesson from God and verses…verses from the Bible and R&B, the “Book of TLC” and Simon and Garfunkel.

Slow down, Lisa Anne.

You move too fast…gotta make the morning last.

sing along now…

“Feelin’ groovy…😊

And a final one from my mama…

Stress’ll kill you. Bette Jean Peacock Hendrix

Weathered Beautifully

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Look around you. Everything can change in just days. Every little thing is God’s way of saying.

Notice the beauty in the weathering.

A lesson in everything, I told someone and she agreed.

Sort of like giving God the question, the messes we find ourselves in and the consequences of them.

Being intentional in the after of it, pausing and expecting to see the whole thing new.

If we will listen, we will learn from the God “reframed” whatever.

Stay teachable, allow change, don’t resist growth not despise the maturity most disguise, don’t want to own their own “aging”.

I’m wiser now because I am more open to God’s wisdom, not my own.

Learning is not a harsh or punitive lesson.

Sometimes it’s a surprise, an acknowledgement that your take on something was spot on, now continue, confident in a graceful way.

Your lesson is not a license for remorse, your accurate assessment is saying,

You matter to me. I’ve noticed you. You have great value, your longings and your confusion as well as your questions, they are valid, significant. God

Yesterday, I thought to tell my husband it felt “tropical”, the air early morning.

Instead, I told him the air felt stormy.

Today, there’s a difference of about thirty degrees and the air is fresh and cool, rain rejuvenated.

I’m likely to speak artistically, to be descriptive in an odd way.

My legacy may include that, “Lisa loved to use unusual words.”

That may be spoken of me when I’m no longer here.

Legacy.

I scribbled next to my “surrender” circle, “my thoughts”.

Left it there and then felt it float above my head most of the day.

How simple it was to jot it down. A challenge or a big heaping helping of peace if it were to be so.

That my thoughts would be only good or at least not so overdone, rewritten, transposed on my heart, the beating down of unknown.

If every single thought was hemmed in, buffered, not allowed to run off course on its own rabbit chase…

That would be what I hope is my lasting legacy.

Quiet Confidence.

Confidence in God.

My life verse? It evolved from the words “quiet confidence” a very long time ago.

I looked for a description of my daddy for a tiny little ad to memorialize him. I rarely read my Bible then. I’d seen others use verses as a way to remember the deceased, to honor them.

Since my daddy was quiet, it was my hope that in heaven he was confident finally.

At least that’s what I hoped people would see, that my father wasn’t so well known in small town Georgia, in terms of success.

But, in heaven he at last was confident.

I kept it for myself. I’ve tossed it over in my mind, made it my brand. I’ve pondered its true meaning.

Quiet Confidence.

“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I cling to the two words most.

My granddaughter and I walked again on Wednesday. We didn’t venture far and our pace was a little lazy. I held her and we pivoted from tree to field, from sky to other end of unending open sky.

An ancient grey tree caught my eye. Maybe hidden until the space was cleared for a family’s home. A tree that had grown up years ago and not planted by man. These trees, this forest grew up over time, naturally.

Not by force, not even pruned or cared for. The tree with the weather making it tough, changing its appearance to what I decided is beautiful.

Is strong.

We change over time too. Circumstances can toughen us, make us either angry or resolved.

I wondered what the tree stripped bare of the fuzzy growth would be, thought of peeling back the layers.

Left it though, the beauty represented the years, rooted and strong, weathered.

Wow, me too.

I am weathered.

We look for the lesson in hardship, consider God’s perspective or we bend under the weight of our fragile attempt to be unchanging, immortal and untainted by the truth of life and death, unavoidable events.

Trees yearn towards God. Brittle arms, branches with tiny offshoot branches…open hands, fingers knowing they’re getting closer to heaven.

So, I’m deciding not to waste any of it. Not complicated situations, doomsday environments and even more proof that I’m not able on my own.

Legacy.

Quiet, confident, teachable.

Weathering beautifully.

Last week I discovered that it is only found in an ancient and out of print Bible translation, the words “in quiet confidence” instead of “strength” or “quietness and trust”.

I’m clinging to the ancient version, confident because of it.

Us With Others

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My Bible is open for the first time in almost a week and I’ve found the scriptures’ take on an expression I went to bed with.

I had been thinking of how I’m perceived, in a crowd of strangers who don’t know me, amongst artists and shoppers, women, their children.

For the first time in the bulk of my years it wasn’t about my shoes, my hair, my jewelry, my purse, or even my perfume.

I’ve been without my favorite scent called “Happy” for a bit and so the scent on a not so clear and cool day? I’m hoping it was “Dove” laced clear and clean aroma.

Most of us want to be found “worthy” of good things, pleasant to be with, able to hold a good conversation.

We want to have comparable lives to the ones we are with.

We want to be okay being with most everyone.

Before sleep last night I followed a thought trail to the question of what it means to walk worthy of Christ.

What a life that throws out all other measurements of worth held by society and individuals and simply is focused, content, and well, really just happy to only have one assessor of worth so to speak.

Then I wondered how walking worthy would really look, not me looking at me, but others’ views.

The Book of II Corinthians has four chapters spread across two pages in my Bible.

On the left margin I’ve sketched what looks like a steep hill going up a curve and towards a tunnel. I must’ve been reading Paul’s words about how we may think we are irrevocably affected by our pasts.

But we have lives resurrected, we have hope.

“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There are some things I shouldn’t have survived. Before, I questioned how and why I made it through. Now, I’m quite certain my present life, the nearness of God, is the reason.

On the right hand margin, there’s a sketch of what I’ve begun calling “margin girls”.

This pencil sketch is an early one with no color and at her feet, I’ve drawn a clay pot and a beautiful rose.

As Paul continues his writing, Chapter 2 is about triumph over our pasts. This is the place where the verse lives that describes what our walk is when we believe, what our aura and aroma will be amongst others.

He also owns his own horrible and murderous past and writes that if we’ve been forgiven, the best thing we can do is to forgive others as well.

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭2:14-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It occurs to me now, I used the word “peddler” just last week as I described how I detest convincing, imploring someone through my own neediness that they need to purchase a painting.

” Peddlers”, I think of insincere and unconvinced vendors.

That’s not who I want to be, when I offer up my belief in Jesus as something others are open to believing.

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No, I share the meaning behind the layers in a piece and onlookers are captivated, drawn closer, decide they’d like to own what God has helped me create.

The idea of the painting, the aroma of Jesus in me, inviting curiosity, not unpleasant.

If I’m found worthy, I want to be found a gentle, confident, pleasingly consistent scent of grace and mercy, salvation through my belief in Jesus.

Years ago, two or three, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me

This is your treasure…your art and your writing.

I was thrilled to be found worthy of such a calling! Impressed that I had progressed to such a place, excited…okay, finally it’s my big break kind of thinking.

But, I’m learning slowly, a treasure is small at first and may never be grand or spectacular at all or in an earthly way.

Instead, the treasure only increases in worth when it’s given back through uncertain and timid hands to the one who made it after all.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:7-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The thing about God and His teachings through the words of people like Paul is that we don’t understand it fully all at once.

Over time we ponder what is the aroma of Christ that those around me should sense?

What does it really mean to be clay in the potter’s hand waiting to be made into a vessel in which can rest our undeniable faith?

What does it mean to discard all self and others’ assessments of our ability and worth and walk only with one goal.

I want to walk worthy of the God who gave His Son and gifted me through grace to have the Spirit of Jesus in my own very soul. I want to live worthy of this, nothing more.

I suppose if their were a new scent, maybe the Clinique scent called “Happy” I loved so much before, I’ve outgrown.

I’d wear a new aroma, one called “Content” if I owned another pretty bottle.

How are your growing, measuring your worth and your worthiness?

Are you content?

Are you learning?

Content in not suddenly complete and completed?

Content in the balance of caring for the treasure of you, the treasured things you were created to share.

Continue and believe.

You are God’s treasure.

Keep learning.

Strong Standing

I ease up slowly and turn to plant my feet, sockless, on the floor that my husband warned of germs. I don’t sleep well in socks, have to have space for moving my toes, can’t be entrapped.

It is not lost on me that the day before I lose my footing, I listen to a podcast about trees, about God’s plan for trees to be meaningful, have significance for us like they do in the Bible.

To not be cut off. Like hope in God, rooted deeply, strong and reaching.

It is not lost on me that I’d been pondering how mysterious is our God, how necessary my dependence on Him is, and that for days I’d been encircling the word “Surrender”.

It is not lost on me that I’d become a little entitled, sure and pompous over my good and strong health.

Everything happens to have us consider the lesson of it.

Yes, I believe everything does happen for a reason.

On Tuesday morning, vertigo came like a hurricane.

I was leveled. Sick, panicked, scared. I was unable to regain my footing, I was swept away on the waves of nausea and sad, sad frantic anxiety.

You’ll maybe laugh over the simplicity of my conclusion.

I was humbled.

Two nights in the hospital to be sure the panic wasn’t cardiac related chest discomfort.

I fell asleep aware of my standing.

Across the hall, a man with dementia who kept prompting the nurses with the erratic pressing of his button.

He cried loudly through the night.

Maybe next door, or close at least, another loud shouter, violent and a threat due to mental condition, he prompted announcements across the hospital speakers of a particular code.

The man with dementia had a visitor with a peace lily in hand and then later a quiet uncertain visitor, looked to be his same age, he knocked timidly and then entered. A third visitor told the cafeteria people the door was closed because we were praying.

I listened. I considered my condition.

Somehow the other man calmed down eventually.

At night I pray for my family and friends. I recall them by using the alphabet and I include all the M’s I know for example, before moving to “N”.

It’s not lost on me that until the scary vertigo episode, I’d never included my well being in the “L” request.

I never pray for my own health other than in a way that always calls to account how I’m certain I don’t deserve to be here.

Or is it because I felt others needed it more? A bit of pride, a big mindset of control?

So, I prayed God would help me navigate this new condition and that He’d forgive my thinking I was “all that” because “I’m 59 and all I take is melatonin!”

Yay me!

Don’t you wish you were so lucky, so fortunate, so fit?

It’s not lost on me that for weeks I’d been getting closer and closer to really seeing that

I’m not able on my own.

Don’t you see it all comes together?

God has been weaving my path to this current understanding for longer than possible for me to comprehend.

You can be strong but you can’t stand alone. You can be stubborn in your perseverance but you’re not without vulnerability nor are you invincible.

You’re not completely well all alone, independence, a fault.

The sunrise on the second morning of hospital waking was so splendid I just waited. I postponed my experimental testing of my balance, my rising to stand and walk and I simply stared, gazed, considered.

You’re still standing. Still standing strong.

Even if you had to be shaken to attention.

God holds out as long as possible to teach an important lesson.

He’s more patient than I deserve.

The lesson? Rest and trust.

Slow down, Lisa. Your body cannot keep up with your erratic physical schedule and not enough rest mind!

In the book Reforesting FaithMatthew Sleeth, a former medical professional, atheist, carpenter discusses trees and their significance in the Bible. He shares his seeking and beginning to believe in God on the Annie F. Downs podcast. You can listen here:

Dr. Matthew Sleeth

I can’t decide if my favorite part of the conversation is that he stole a Bible and began reading with Matthew’s book or the quote that describes how God had been with him all along even when he didn’t believe.

If you don’t believe in God it doesn’t mean God doesn’t believe in you. Matthew Sleeth

I woke at home this morning having slept okay after falling asleep with a Proverbs verse.

“In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭24:14‬ ‭NLT

I walked with puppy, back on routine and I paused at my little spot with one chair under the pine situated in the corner.

I hadn’t thought of it until this morning, this not so grand pine is growing, enough for shade and to be the arm outstretched for a bird feeder.

This very pine, the source of me questioning my husband to myself. Why does he insist on replanting, why is he putting that puny little branch in the ground…I mean, the whole back yard is filled with strong pines?

Why can’t he stop adding new growth? Why does he insist on keeping every tree?

But, now, now this one is mine and it is still growing. It is not towering; but it is strong.

Strong standing, after all and welcoming the surrender to sun and rain and whatever wind might blow.

Strong standing.

Planted a long time ago and quietly surrendered.

Walking on level places, not stoic in the steadiness of my own feet.

Strong standing because He made me, kept and keeps me.

Continuing to believe.

Your hopes will not be cut short. Proverbs 24:17

Able, just not on my own.

No Notes

I’ve misplaced yet another good pen. The lead in the mechanical pencil isn’t working, keeps slipping from the cylinder.

Is that what it’s called? Cylinder?

The part, under the pressure of my thumb and an erratic clicking to yield the grey lead?

Probably hid the pen from the puppy, yet another thing inedible eaten.

My journaling ritual,

Habitual or healing?

I barely made a note on this blessed stormy morn, just repeated the word “surrender” and circled, circled, circled.

It’s day 7 of 40. When I get to 41, I’ve decided I’ll circle “surrender” again.

It’s an unending thing.

Not specific. It covers what’s needed, encircles it all.

Twice since yesterday I’ve heard things that are more than enough, simply profound, stand alone philosophy and determined mindset.

My grandma used to say “pass and re-pass” meaning get along with others and my mama always said things like “pick your battles”, “turn the page” or “don’t stress”.

It really is a wonder she found words to encourage us. She was tormented by life and at times, my father.

Then there’s my aunt, who is now my mama. “Prayer and Patience”, her answer for life, for everything.

A mother who had a daughter die. She lives by the “2 p’s”.

My father, on the other hand was a man of hardly any words.

He abhorred nasty and condescending puffed up men.

He was kind to the often downtrodden in need of a cheap six-pack on Sunday people.

He always told the truth.

He just kept trying.

Told us “tell one lie, you gonna have to tell another”.

Occurs to me now, this may be why I’m so honest with others, getting better at honesty with myself.

Back to the two things:

1. Fear always stems from and centers itself around what we love most.

2. Strength is found in weakness.

My greatest fears have always been related to the loss of something, usually someone I love greatly.

My weaknesses are ironically where my strengths are after fifty plus years, emerging.

Bursting.

Too sensitive? I don’t think so anymore. I’m owning my sensitivity, calling it observing.

If fear is a result of loving fully, give me fear in abundance because I want to love with all I got from here on.

No notes needed for either.

Know your “weakness” fully engage it and encircle your fears with like a ginormous comforting hug.

That sounds/reads ridiculous.

Oh well, it’s Saturday and I’m too comfy to find a pen for journaling.

Thus, the unraveling is here.

We do not know what life will bring us.

Even Jesus asked His Father God for other options.

Jesus was human amongst humans til his thirties.

He loved fully, knew fear. Taught fairness, non-judgment, honesty and love.

He knew his life had a purpose but hoped there’d be a less tragic demonstration.

He asked to be excused three times from the ultimate demonstration of love.

His disciples were with him in the Garden. His only request of them, stay awake, I will be pleading. I will be asking My Father if my death is His will or if there is some other way to make heaven possible for all.

They slept while he prayed and then he told them again, be vigilant, my death is coming.

It wasn’t His Father’s plan that he avoid a sacrificial death. The bitter cup would be His.

“saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow,”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:42-45‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We don’t know what life will bring us, what we will be forced to endure, when freedom from endurance will be delivered.

We only get to choose whether to see fear as a sign of love, weakness as the soil for the strongest seed waiting for water.

Everyone has a story.

This I believe. Will continue.

No notes needed.

I’m not an expert in theology and don’t anticipate late in life education of the seminary sort.

What I know is life is a teacher. God is my life’s author.

I can believe from here.

No notes.

No pen needed.

Winds and Wills

From the window I watched a cloud-like gathering of mist rising up. I could see it drift and sort of fade and then it was evident again, dancing in an upward slow swirl and sway.

The breeze had gathered together it seemed, what was left of the misting rain and it wasn’t collected in anything that could contain it, just danced a bit and then disappeared.

Mystery, in a way.

The seasons, a metaphor maybe God uses to lead us, redirection or reinvention.

The gray rain sky changed to fog and mist and then later the sun landed on the daisies next to the sill.

The day changed.

Crisp, it called and my granddaughter and I went.

I watched the big brown leaves layered on the soft path and then their unlayering, leaning and lifting together with the notice of afternoon’s wind.

We talked about God making things, not sure what else.

We must’ve been listening.

Now today has delivered Autumn, the shift of season made the sky more transparent yesterday late evening.

Seemed that way. Translucent from my perspective.

It may be me.

Believing clarity is cusping.

No longer bold breaking through just responding to pending invitation.

Change, no longer resisted at all.

Direction? Now just a calm consideration of truth not fully revealed.

Shoes on my feet and my arms drawn in tight acknowledging the change.

Embrace the shift, the change, the lack of understanding of everything. Your path will be directed. Look and listen.

You will see.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He will.

God’s Peace, You are Free

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭30:11-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It’s exactly as surprising and joyous as they say, being a grandparent. Some may say, it’s what I’m learning, an infant requires of your attention, a full percent and it’s never a demand, it is a precious gift.

Complement it with an idyllic setting, open field, blue sky wide, leaves changing colors and a quilt on a back porch situated perfectly for a breeze.

I sing with abandon. She listens, smiles. The acoustics are so good. My voice carries. God is near.

Being a grandmother, big chunks of uninterrupted peace. My granddaughter is privy to God’s refining of me.

Perhaps, it’s her and God’s idea.

How can I keep from singing your praise?

I welcome the unlearning of the traumatized me, I acknowledge it may take a bit.

I envision clarity like a treasure I bring up to my chest or it’s a tug of war, the big mean boy grabbing at what’s mine and me, scared of being overpowered.

I used to give it away.

Now, I’m angry over its thieves.

My little bit of peace and clarity jerked from my arms and the aggressor running away, turned back towards me, sneering and laughing his ass off!

I’d have used asterisks for the s’s but I decided not to veil the truth of this thought and image, the abusive act of my peace being stolen.

In the dim light of day as a way of escape, a rescue for my hurting heart came this morning.

The answer?

All things are possible with God.

I thought it over and over.

This! This is real.

Not with self-care, not a new counselor, not a community or “tribe”, not a webinar or self-help book.

Not some instructor, well intentioned but profiting from my naive determination shadowed by doubt and discontent.

These are the things that draw me in, make me prey to promises only God and I together can fulfill.

Bold revelation, you may say.

When I write this way, I’m a little worried and then I decide someone else may need to explore this, this self-handicapping behavior, this lesson in knowing our weak places, being uncomfortable with settling there.

The closer we get to God’s gracious idea of us, the more miserable we are wearing any other garment or expression.

Clarity came and may be the less traveled road to peace.

This leg of my journey will lead to peace.

A rarely talked about truth for victims of trauma, I’ve heard it spoken many times by my kind and skilled counselor friend.

People return to negative patterns because this is familiar, this is safe. The sometimes unhealthy behaviors are the most fail-proof remedy we know.

Thankfully not return to allowing physical trauma, more the insidious spread of subtle abuses to self, the power of our thoughts, our mindsets that

Sabotage our freedom.

Compile all the days you lived under the thumb of something or someone, succumbing to the control, manipulation or unfair, cast aside treatment by something or someone.

The undoing doesn’t just happen like the snap of a finger and thumb.

Take it easy on you.

Then do two things, Lisa Anne.

Now that you understand what you’re doing, be grateful not debilitated, give yourself grace.

Stop seeking validation, support, or yet another conversation in which you expect another human to fully understand your distress.

It’s not possible and it’s not their place or fault.

Your wounds and your beautiful hopes are far too deeply layered for another human being to understand.

Something about early morning, God always speaks as if to say:

I filtered your fears overnight, here’s what’s left, the sure thing you must now know. All things are possible with me.

This place God has brought me to, saved me from, kept me safe…how on earth could I think it’s possible to continue on my own?

I jot the “Jabez prayer” every morning.

“He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.”

‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Today, I added little check marks next the lines in the beginning: I’ve been blessed, check, I’ve had my territory enlarged, check!

The last two things, I am still very much in need of, keep your hand on me God, keep me from self-harm, the thoughts that betray me, so that I won’t revisit, get caught up in my pain.

You see, I spoke of newfound freedom, the choice to live with hope not remorse. I made it seem so easy.

Yet, I didn’t give a thought to the multiple layers of harm that very hope would have to fight daily with the devil to stay real every minute.

The one thing just a glimpse of freedom will give, a strong and renewed will to fight hard against repeated entrapment!

An awareness that it is hard not to be a victim when you were one for so long.

It is hard not to be who you were.

Almost impossible.

It’s easier to be weak and manipulated than to be newly strong.

I boasted of hope, forgot I am not able on my own.

God is my counselor, my advisor, my strong encourager of looking forward not before.

This is not a grim post, only honest. I’m afraid honesty’s in my bones, got that from my father, God rest his quiet soul.

I rise now to continue the things He started in me, blessed me, continues to enlarge my territory through happy brave opportunities.

I’ve designed a 2020 calendar, available soon, each month, an image of a woman strengthened by hope and God.

(Hope to share by next week, tell you more about ordering.)

Some told me they were proud of me, well intentioned comments and I suppose make sense.

What I’m doing though, is just following through on a God-planted seed, an idea, God’s work through me.

Please don’t be proud of me. Together, let’s be proud of God.

I rise now to clean my “art and writing room”, to ready it for what is possible today.

Are you a victim of trauma, physical or emotional abuse?

My thoughts…be strong, believe in your freedom; but, don’t walk it out alone, without the one who knows you completely, God.

“Jesus looked at them and said,

“With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Believe. Continue and believe.

September’s Monthly Mail

I committed to a monthly newsletter and am learning as I go. Here’s an excerpt of September’s and an invitation to subscribe if you’d like to share in my imperfect, yet continued writing journey.

Zacchaeus came down from a tree and Jesus followed him home and in that home, if there’d been a confused, conflicted and peace seeking sister, she could have been me. 

Your Bible Story

Feel free to share.

LT

Course Change

Does not wisdom call?

Does not understanding raise her voice? Proverbs 8:1

I heard them off in the distance and decided they were traversing through the warm fog towards the expected pond down the road.

I stood as the puppy followed his pattern, checking out the corner shrub, sniffing at the dirt; he is so slow in the mornings to do “his business”.

The sound of the geese came closer and I expected to see them fly over the four homes down subdivision.

Instead they were sounding very close.

I stood as the sound approached and there they were, two sets of geese perfectly positioned over me. So very close, I could see the pattern of their feathers and their soft curved bellies, their beaks breaking up the fog.

Two sets of seven or eight or so in their arrow design making their way to must be a new destination, course change, following new directions today.

The puppy scurried towards me and was startled, his little face looking up towards the sky as he hurried.

This is new for him, I thought; he has to figure out if he should run away or be okay, trusting their kind and sweetly patterned arrival.

Being safe and simply noticing.

Noticing God.

Like the random occurrence of the dragonfly perched on my cup poolside, it rested until I noticed and because I noticed, I captured it on my phone.

Someone asked, “You’re taking a picture of a dragonfly?”

I don’t believe I responded.

Because I had no idea the symbolism and I didn’t know how beautiful it and its traditional meaning would be.

Until this morning.

Until the meaning lined up with my prayer.

The Dragonfly normally lives most of its life as a nymph or an immature. It flies only for a fraction of its life.  This symbolizes and exemplifies the virtue of living in the moment and living life to the fullest.

I’m back to bedside prayers in the morning. To be honest it’s sometimes more like a long low downward dog pose, hoping for relief in the ache of low back.

I tumble from my bed to the floor determined to at the very least start well.

Start surrendered.

I think of the invalid who’d been so very close to healing waters but waited over half his life for someone to help him get well, help him from the ground into the water.

He waited to be noticed, for maybe someone to care and he used the excuses that well everyone else is beating me there, the line’s too long or perhaps, he felt the waters had lost their strength because of all the help they’d given everyone else…

Could there still be healing enough left in the water for me?

After all those years, he was paralyzed, not only his limbs but his mind and his soul.

Oh, man! I understand.

Stay where you are, settle in your place of thinking you can but never will.

“One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 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.”

‭‭John‬ ‭5:5-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s no coincidence, the geese flying over, the visiting dragonfly and my different prayer this morning.

Lord, can my life truly be different? Help me live today in pursuit of the difference in me that only you know. Help me to be moment by moment today instead of rushing towards this evening, tomorrow or even next year. Can my life really be different? I’m willing to see.

I don’t think we know at all, even an ounce of what God might have planned if we are patient, persistent and willing.

I don’t think we see the magic and power of getting up from our “mats”… our places on the ground or the floor and embracing the change and changes God says are possible when we forget all the barriers, the doubts, the distractions and the pull of life backward or in unhealthy directions.

It may be slow. I’ll try to be steady.

I’ll go slow.

I’ll follow unknown paths perhaps.

Moment by moment, change will come and I’ll find myself in small yet surrendered places.

Positioned with Him because I moved from my worn out tattered and sad place and into the healing water.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

Changed.