On Sunday, I felt the tone in my voice change to excited, the chance to tell again how it all started, women in redemptive poses, muses of my art.
The story of a new Bible for Christmas, the trend catching on of filling margins with notes, colorful stickers or maybe drawings.
I was reluctant. I remembered warnings of never let your Bible touch the floor, leave it somewhere safe, underline some things and write on little pieces of paper tucked away, the sins you keep sinning.
That’s what you need to remember most, I was raised to think. Keep track of your wrongs, only consider the tiny chance you are worthy of grace.
I was in awe of the mysterious unattainable gift of the Holy Bible for many years.
Gradually, when time alone brought comfort, I began timid sketches of women and stories I could see myself in comparable pain, joy, messes made or willingness to learn.
Willing to come nearer to God.
Brave enough to trust His love.
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14 ESV
I heard love in my voice on Sunday, felt it in the fluttery words lifted into the air as I stood surrounded by my art.
This thing I get to do that leads to stories of a Bible filled with drawings, the word “trust” in dark pen to greet me.
Listening as a passerby stops to say, “This one speaks to me.” I listen and am grateful for the gift of their emotion, their interpretation of the canvas.
Thank you seems insufficient and to add “it means so much” seem like the reply of an amateur, not a “real” artist.
But, I tell them. I tell the ones who see themselves in my art that their purchase, their kind words are a gift.
Because, I mean it and rare is the occasion I say something I don’t mean.
Share your thoughts, words and trust.
You never know what a gift to them it may be.
The gift of you sharing “your Bible”, your life.
Open your Bible, let it speak then speak it through your story.
Remember when you refused to say “diet”, instead lifestyle or good choices for my health? Maybe you’ve counted calories, drank smooshed up vegetables in a pretty glass, restricted cream and sugar in your coffee.
All in an effort to be well, to be satisfied with yourself, body and soul.
Yesterday, I gazed at the casserole dish of cheesy baked spaghetti my daughter made. I remembered the day I would’ve gone for thirds, if by myself eat the rest of it.
I let the memory help me, I let it fade into the shadows. I left it there.
I woke up early unnecessarily today. I prayed beside my bed that God would help me keep learning, keep listening, keep strengthening my spiritual health.
I see the word prompt for today is “taste”. Rather than think of passages like kind words being sweeter than honey or tasting and seeing that the goodness of the Lord is good.
I rested for a few minutes, soaking up a passage I never tire of,
The passage about the woman who’d been hemorrhaging for twelve years and had gone broke trying to get well, to find a solution to her blood saturated clothing.
The crowd was thick. She could get close to Jesus without being noticed. She did. She touched the hem of his robe and instantly everything changed. She got well.
Jesus knew it. Knew she was there. Knew she was desperate and called her out from her chosen obscurity, her hope to keep herself secret.
“When the woman realized she couldn’t hide any longer, she came and fell trembling at Jesus’ feet. Before the entire crowd she declared, “I was desperate to touch you, Jesus, for I knew if I could just touch even the fringe of your garment I would be healed.” Luke 8:47 TPT
All eyes and ears were on her then, Jesus didn’t just heal her, He gave her the voice to invite healing for others.
I haven’t thought of it this way until today.
Others see and hear us. See how we’ve changed and keep seeking to be healed.
On Sunday (isn’t Sunday always okay tomorrow I start the diet day?) I considered doing Whole30 again.
The diet that restricts certain foods as a way for you to learn what is specifically not good for you is work. It takes effort, makes you feel like a brave fighter or a competitive something or other.
But, there’s no cheese allowed, no cream in my coffee, no chocolate, no red wine, no bread, no sugar, no peanut butter (!!!). The “no” list is long.
Earlier this week, I embraced a friend in a funeral home. I didn’t expect to hear her words through tears. I just know they surprised me, sweetly and certainly she spoke.
“I’m gonna need you.” she said before I spoke a word. On the way to this visitation I almost decided against I decided I’d offer myself as a person to call.
I’d tell her “If you run out of friends to call or no one’s available, you can always call me.”
You see, we know each other but not dining together or visiting each other’s home sort of friends.
Her greeting me with “I’m gonna need you.” surprised me and then it didn’t.
This thing called blogging, posting what God tells me on Instagram, this sharing of sitting on the sofa sketches at night, this creative thing God so graciously made me to do.
It has an audience of listeners, seekers, “needers” like me.
It’s just me being vulnerably, being honestly me.
My “sermons to self” sometimes become hopeful words for others, I suppose.
I pray this anyway.
So, on this chilly quiet morning, I make myself breakfast. I don’t skip it thinking I’ll eat later. I am intentional with starting the day filled with possibilities and errands well.
I take the English muffin top and toss it. I like the bread, but I just choose the bottom. I add sharp cheddar to the egg white and turkey sausage and let the broiler make it bubbly. I add a dollop of cherry preserves to balance the savory. I place it on the pretty china.
I sit and enjoy it.
Like I told my friend who is grieving and I continue to tell others and myself,
“Take it easy on yourself.”
Offer as much mercy you’ve shown others to yourself.
Cease striving, seek wellness.
Be humble when convicted, but don’t punish yourself, don’t let bitter regret or self-hate simmer.
Continue and believe.
Believe you’re fearfully and wonderfully made and so fully known and loved.
Be well. It is well.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14 ESV
Thank you for sustaining me Lord, for keeping me well, for reminding me of what harms and what helps me, what makes me a beautifuloffering, a vessel to pour out newlife, love and listening. Thank you for showing me gently what limits my abilities, takes me from your Spirit. I am listening. I am learning. Thank you. Because of your mercy, Amen
I thought that was its intent, especially the Book of Revelation. Can you relate?
Angry preachers and their warnings with the intention of frightening me towards God.
My twenties changed to avoidance altogether, no chance I’d dare to believe that punishment for my behaviors might be met with a full measure of mercy. Thirties brought hope, a timid hope that perhaps I could chance trusting, believing in a different way.
Here I am at sixty plus a year.
Going on a decade or so of steadiness in my seeking even if my walk isn’t always steady.
That’s the thing.
Unwaveringly and simply, I keep deciding moment by moment to believe God.
In my quiet and confident way.
In God who created me, saw me through choices and troubles that were not his intent for me.
Still, His intention is that I know now,
He never left me, never will.
Like the wings of angel draped around my shoulders, surrounding me in love.
I’ve been cared for. The foundation of my faith is His provision, protection, wisdom, mercy and grace.
When my days are complete. I want it to be said of me.
She kept believing in Jesus. She wasn’t afraid tolive according to His Word.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11 NIV
What did Jesus tell them, tells us through His recorded words?
Remain connected. Be a healthy and thriving branch of my goodness, mercy and love getting the nourishment to grow directly from me. (my paraphrase)
“…apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NIV
Love everyone. Endure. Be found faithful.
Be met by God on your last day on earth this way.
Leave stories of your faith for your children and grandchildren. Live this way, Lisa.
Even when others drift away, make allowances for sin and avoid hard conversations.
Abide in me, stay.
You don’t have be a fighter, just be you, a gentle and steady believer,
A victor of the faith.
“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 ESV
Lord, thank you for the changes you’ve brought in me and keep bringing as I continue and believe.
Suppose I post this little graphic on social media today, maybe add one word “please” in front of “pray”.
There may be a flurry of questions, curiosity over what in the world is wrong with Lisa?! (now).
Or maybe others would think…
there she goes again, talking about things she should keep to herself.
Either could be the case.
But, it is encouragement.
The tattered book I’m revisiting has no dates beside the entries of my thoughts. There’s a smiley face beside a verse, dog-eared corners from not sure when. There are prayers, quite personal on the pages.
Prayers that have been heard, met with either answer or with growth, changes in me and situations.
Peace in the form of acceptance.
My prayers were heard.
They will be today.
Whether they’re the confident gratitude that thanks God for knowing or
The bewildered surrender that finds me face down and allowing tears. No words, just flow.
Or simply, again.
Thank you for today. I woke up well.
Recently someone likened “thinking about it” to “praying about it”.
Said it’s the same, just semantics.
I can say with certainty it is not. We can not know everything and so our thoughts are incapable of changing our conditions.
I’ll be careful here. I’m not a theologian and I’ve begged God for things I’ve yet to see.
But, oh the things I have been shown. It astounds me all the times I’ve prayed and resisted the urge to take action.
God has sweetly surprised me.
A phone call longed for that pops up, a request for Jesus to put his healing hands on a family, a plea for knowing more clearly than ever His nearness and protection.
Three very recent answered prayers.
A pleading soul is the soul at peace, at peace with its position in this universe.
“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.” Psalms 34:4-7 NLT
Lord, thank you for changing my understanding of prayer, of bringing me to here, a place to boldly say to others, “my encouragement to you is that you make prayer a priority.” Help me to help others see the powerfully available connection to you, the one who fully knows us.
Lord, keep teaching me to pray. In Jesus Name and because of your great mercy, I say
“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16:6 ESV
I wonder if anyone on a summer morning would pause there as well. Or just me, my eye drawn to nature, the way an old bent root is exposed through what once was the ground, now eroding to give way for the road.
For our morning walking.
We noticed the pillowy green moss covering the border and we’d never not touch it, the invitation to see new life juxtaposed with trees barren because of age.
We stopped and cupped the evidence of life in the palm of our hands, caressed the smooth earthen wall.
It was a small thing, gloriously small.
Like clouds thickly shifting, my thoughts are of the majesty of God’s hands swooping down to stir them up.
I am convinced of this actually and often.
I’m in a group of women called “The Alabaster Girls”.
I joined this group of others I don’t personally know because I wanted to be one, one with other women who would if given the chance, pour out all I’d been saving up in my own vessel or jar and in the face of resistance, express my relationship with Jesus.
“…what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” Matthew 26:13 ESV
Today, the leader suggested members of this group share our testimony. I paused like I’ve paused many times before.
My testimony of deciding to believe in Jesus is really small, sort of private, sort of “not sure it took” because my path forward has been imperfect.
So, I typed it in the comments and I saw my salvation in the truest way.
I thanked the group’s moderator for asking me to tell the story of my salvation, the one I sometimes felt was too small.
The story of my quiet day, quiet choice and quietly steady faith.
Jesus came to me gently and I welcomed Him in, in a quiet way.
I sat alone in my home, a single mother with two children. My Sunday morning thing became watching Charles Stanley, In Touch. I decided to believe what I still believe, Jesus died for me so that I could have life. It wasn’t a whole lot of fanfare and so, many times I’ve questioned the simplicity of it…now, I know that’s the greatest gift and truth, the decision to believe in Jesus can happen anywhere and I should never discount my testimony…deciding to follow Jesus, alone on a Sunday morning with a journal in my lap. God knew me even when I was so lonely and lost and He met me the most gentle way, knowing I was afraid of “being pushed around”. Wow. I’ve never actually written this out until today. God is using you, sweet Nan Trammell Jones.
The seed was planted way back then although not always meticulously tended or consistently fertilized by choices, prayer and worship.
Quietly, quietly and persistently I have grown and in my often “quiet about it” way, the way God made me, He is using my story.
I am growing and others see Jesus in me in the very way God made me.
Quietly like the persistent beauty of green moss covering the ground, the evidence of goodness, of peace, of quiet confidence in God, the earth and all things knowing Him made more glorious.
Decide to accept Jesus. You will never regret what can never be taken away.