Surely Goodness

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

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

You are here.

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

You get to experience this time.

This place. This grace.

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

But you know are there.

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

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

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

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

The color of love and peace.

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

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

The geese that are communicating.

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

Go and Keep Going

I walked although I didn’t feel okay, not okay enough to walk and believe it’d make it all okay.

Strange how a thought can be powerful and then have no truth at all, none.

On the way to church this morning, I decided I was strong back then, I just didn’t know it.

I decided I oughta be able to rewrite some things told me, a common trauma therapist response.

Meant to let the one bound by past trauma be excused, let off the hook…you couldn’t leave because you didn’t know you could.

“You weren’t equipped…you weren’t equipped to seek help. You weren’t equipped to leave.”

Strange how sure I was in my conviction that such a thing should never be spoken to one kept captive by abuse, medicated and numbed incapable.

Sure enough I decided that bit of therapeutic prescription should never be used, that instead we should be saying.

You are capable of change, have deep down inside a reserve of ability to run and not return, that you do have choices and at any given time you can strike out towards safety, towards love and your very own freedom.

But, something shifted, put me back in that beaten place, caused me to doubt my significance and for whatever reason I couldn’t shake it and I didn’t believe walking would help.

But, I walked anyway. I walked at an easy pace. I felt the ache of heavy legs, knees getting old and instead of being mad about it, I slowed.

I walked slowly.

The clouds, the sky, the dusk all spoke.

You are able. You are equipped.

Why did I suddenly out of the blue stop my believing in possibility?

And then believe again.

No telling.

No telling really.

Other than the sky saying it’s all okay and you’re right, you were right in your thoughts about strength and freedom and choice.

You are equipped. You always have been.

So, I walked into the dusk buffeted by clouds like bird feathers, swept up like open hands toward heaven.

Made me think of hope.

Caused me to know I am able.

Free now although not free then.

Free.

Continue and believe.

If I could say anything to one trapped by abuse or manipulation or addiction forced upon them at the hands of a possessive, abusive partner, I’d say with all assurance, “You are equipped, you are able, you do have a choice…now, go and keep going.”

This I believe and it’s making all the difference for me.

I believe now, I was equipped. I was able.

Still am.

I’m certain of it.

Very Sure

The sky this morning makes me certain.

Certain of God.

The sky, barely sunlit, so soft this morning makes me certain that God is intentional.

Look up, Lisa. Refer to me for the day’s instruction.

A soft beckoning, a reminder of grace.

Yes, I’ve decided, the way of creation is intentional.

The decay of old underfoot making what God’s nature intends for new.

The sky so big, so wide, so deeply open to interpret.

So soft this morning

On purpose.

Look. Look again.

And then again.

Grace is still for you.

Be hopeful today.

Look forward to the turning, the next bend in your road that’s not lonely at all.

Rather, open to optimal reflection.

Ease your mind, there’s still time.

The way of your steps bordered by steady and unrelenting grace.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

I made heaven and earth. I’ve got you covered, nurtured, safe and hemmed in by mercy. I’m everywhere. Don’t forget to notice.

God

Light Returns

“for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Light, Returning

Early morning drive and I look to my right. I say to myself

The light is returning.

I chase it down all day long, the view from the porch perched in a slightly sloping country valley.

The sunlight on tops of the leaves. My granddaughter and I walking together.

She doesn’t know or does she?

Her grandma is new.

Her grandma is breaking old cycles.

She laughs in the early morning, first thing every morning happy baby.

The dark had been pursuing me, dogged pursuit that left my soul and body ill.

Unrelenting in its battle, the enemy was allowing an encounter to trigger old thoughts old ways and old questions.

God, why did you allow this to happen?

This is a personal story, it may help someone, my sharing the surprise boldness of a conversation.

And what followed.

My response and my reconciliation. Brief parlay into dark and return to light.

I had to, darkness was not going to take from me all God had me tangibly becoming.

It was a Friday night, a rare date with my husband, “GT”.

Cool enough for jeans and long sleeves, a chance to wear jewelry, a time to feel pretty.

Downtown crowded because of a festival, we chose a sports bar and delighted in an old fashioned, made like your mama, cheeseburger. We split the fries.

He had a beer.

I had a glass of Merlot.

It was memory making, the ambiance, the lack of concern over no fancy seating, no fanfare for my birthday, belated.

Content and enthused. That’s how the night felt.

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I’m Still Standing

A relationship of almost twenty years,

Content and enthused, a good place in a marriage.

We find our seats in the old restored concert hall. The music is good, the night continues as I watch my husband infatuated by the talent of the band, he leaned up in his seat, toe tapping and an occasional, “that was good” and rowdy applause.

It was my birthday gift, the Eagles tribute concert. He really wanted to go. It was his idea, his choice of “my” gift. He told me it would be good. He really wanted to see the show.

Me too, because there’s no call for pouting over such things when you’re eighteen years in.

Committed and secure.

Intermission came and we joined the mass of others. Selfies and restroom lines. He ordered a beer. For me, a wine and a bottled water.

I heard my name “Lisa, how ya doing?”

Puzzled, I turned. Vague recognition of the man but really no idea.

He identified himself. Small talk began, words with no relevance exchanged.

I was in shock. After 30 plus years, I encountered the brother of my abuser.

I was shaken. I fought against the feeling. I numbed it with downing my ice cold Dasani water, something to do with my hands. Help me feel safe.

Still.

I was thirsty and nervous.

I felt like I was drowning, still, so thirsty.

The concert continued. Two rows behind us was where they were sitting, the brother and his wife.

I’d been spotted like a sharpshooter, I was a target.

The enemy had a ready participant, this brother set on setting me off course of my recent and joyous healing.

The encore was done, we rose to go home. My husband’s hand on the curve of my back, I paused on the stairs.

I said his name.

I looked at him, his wife’s face unsettled, a little caught off guard and I said out loud.

You know your brother abused me…it was very bad.

He responded and his response made sense, so long ago, maybe we all were a mess back then. The conversation softened trying to make impossible amends.

I’m not sure. I backpedaled a little after seeing him try to reconcile his brother’s wrong.

I said I’m okay now.

Just wanted to be sure you knew.

But, that wasn’t my reason. I felt strong in that moment like a fighter or a skilled and confident hero.

This is your chance, take it, was my thinking.

It left me off kilter. I busied myself for the rest of the weekend.

Asked my husband on Sunday, what would be his answer about my confrontation,

Would you say that was strength or weakness?

Naturally, he said “strength”.

But, the real question I asked of myself, “was that the behavior of a survivor or a victim, the conversation of one reconciled with her past or one still hindered”?

Monday came and the trauma triggers were tightening their chains.

I fought it.

I fought in the quiet. I was physically ill, every joint and muscle ached.

I prayed.

It is not up to me, restoration, only God.

I knew the response for me. I wrote one note then tore it apart, a second more brief and not a word of defense, not a word about me.

“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭80:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Briefly wrote, I apologize for my words, I saw they were upsetting for your wife. You’re not responsible for your brother. My behavior was not consistent with the place God has brought me. I wish your brother nor your family any ill will.

Then I mailed to an address that may or may not be his and left the corner blank that would have given my place.

Many would disagree with my choice to apologize.

The note was not necessary.

Or was it?

Many would say that I was weak, I had been victimized again.

I thought the same things.

I listened to God’s spirit and chose the less popular way.

img_7726

Reason to Believe

On Tuesday morning, I drove back to the country. I’d been trying to capture the crescent moon all morning at home.

Told myself, there’s a reason you love the crescent. When you were a little girl, someone surely told you stories about God and the moon.

You don’t remember the conversations.

Someone surely talked to you though, left an impact on your soul.

Someone cultivated the God in you, the one who chooses to ponder, to bravely pursue better things. Take chances when left alone your behavior would be forgotten, might be seen as acceptable.

The sky opened up with tangerine light and the clouds were like an evolution from under, all clustered together as if to say,

I see the light. I’m getting closer. I am so happy you found me and I, you.

I set out to write about hope after trauma, key word, “after”.

I asked God repeatedly over the past several days.

Why did you let this happen?

Over and over, I found myself thinking, you’ve come so far, this is a real setback.

Why such a setback?

Why after all these years would I be called out by this brother?

He didn’t have to speak, there was no need for friendly or otherwise reunion.

But, he did.

I’m farther along because of it.

God knew I would be.

No setback now, only cause to move on.

For months I’ve written, prayed and thought about committing myself to a mindset I call “forward not before”.

What made sense to set me back has only beckoned me forward.

Because it wasn’t strength that led me to confront the brother, it was hurt and harm and opportune place.

The enemy had a hand in this. There’s no reason to believe otherwise.

It was weakness hoping to be strong by succumbing to weakness.

Strength, I believe, is recognizing the encounter as a lesson.

A lesson with a quiz I didn’t pass right away, took upon myself to initiate a retake.

Crazy choice, and uncalled for some might say.

But I’m better. I made right my wrong, the only behavior I can control.

The light has been shining in new places. I’ll not allow the darkness back in.

My part in my trauma story is now redemptive.

Redemptive and light.

Light that lingers, returns, dispels the encroaching darkness.

The light of believing and continuing.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

I’m still standing. I’m still here.

I could have been different, there were moments I’m surprised I survived.

Good, not harm.

Light always returns.

Elizabeth’s grandma and her restoration, her legacy.

Love one another.

But Jesus

Two pages of print so fine I resort to going without my glasses. My vision is aging, my prescription apparently needs changing.

Side note, 49 got me worse than 50 did and I’m thinking 59’s gonna hit me hard the same.

Still, oh mercy me…I’ve come along way in my most recent ten years!

Thank you Jesus!

At first I thought I might just focus on Ephesians, the second chapter.

I’ll take just a few words and I linger in my absorption of their meaning being just a tad different.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I felt the emotion of remembrance and I let it set in

But God.

Yesterday, I listened to a podcast that always welcomes the discussion of hard things.

A pastor, raised by his grandmother talked about his struggles and I won’t attempt to quote him, it’d be better if you listen in.

Derrick Hawkins on JOE

I’m out walking.

Fooled by the morning temps now hot, achy for some reason. I pressed on if for no other reason than to get back home.

And I listened.

At the end of this podcast, Lisa Whittle asks her guests an every episode question.

What’s the last thing you’d say about Jesus? Lisa Whittle

When Derrick Hawkins answered, I said “Oh” out loud and again “Oh, my.”

I’ll remember that like a Bible story, I’ll consider it significant.

When the woman at the house of the leper in Bethany poured out expensive ointment from her alabaster flask over Jesus’ head the disciples were indignant.

I guess they were maybe vying for his approval. Perhaps, they thought he’d find her behavior flamboyant or ridiculous.

They were haughty in their pointing out her behavior to him. I love it.

[bctt tweet=”Jesus said basically, let her love me. Let her be. ” username=””]

That she’d take it upon herself to worship Jesus unprompted and unexpectedly, she simply did what her heart led her to do.

She walked up behind the reclining Jesus and she honored him by giving away what was seen as precious, costly, not to be wasted.

She couldn’t imagine a better use for it.

The best of her given so unabashedly.

The best of what she’d acquired or been given, given away in a sense for the sake of worship, of remembrance of him, of believing what he’d been telling the others was about to occur.

Like a farewell offering, a worthy gift to a deserving recipient.

Maybe the disciples doubted the doom of his death. Maybe the woman at Bethany believed and was ready.

Because of her lack of concern for the disciples opinion, she will be remembered.

“Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭26:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Here in South Carolina on a balmy nothing spectacular morning, I turn to this story.

On the day I decide to open my Bible after two days of just phone found scripture, I sit and let my eyes fill with tears.

I am connected with her story as I was with the one of Derrick Hawkins.

In the mornings I go out barefooted and stand in the cool wet grass for a minute.

I look up usually.

Sometimes down, at the level place God has me now and I know clearly I cannot discount his mercy.

I made a list this morning of all things of me.

Changed artist to painter and writer to blogger, added roles most important, wife, mother, grandmother, disciple.

Told myself, let’s be honest Lisa Anne and celebrate that honesty being enough in your Father’s eyes and hands.

No need to demand my attention I feel God’s been saying.

[bctt tweet=”Stay aligned with Jesus, be unconcerned with who may be watching.” username=””]

I pray I’d not have been the disciple who said thousands of years ago, I don’t know Him or the one who couldn’t stay awake or the one who kissed his cheek as a way to show the killers who to take.

But I am some days, I falter.

He finds me.

Says come back now, your unique worship is welcome, nothing is wasted.

Give me what is you.

How will I be remembered?

Will it be in ways of significance or simply small by our culture of comparison and cutesy competition and Instagram celebrity standards?

I don’t believe this satisfies Jesus and I’m beginning to believe it doesn’t satisfy me.

My seeking of recognition.

Not my anxious counting of followers, rather my calm obedience to my content consistently representing my hope of causing curiosity over Jesus, my possible never knowing how my story might change another.

And that being okay, the not knowing that one day a grand or a great-grand or even a stranger might say oh, I love the way she wrote about life and love and Jesus or I love the way she laid down color on canvas.

Letting Jesus decide the direction of my blog, the worth of my story.

The image and images I leave.

Time is not a factor in the impact of our stories and our brave acts of sharing.

The alabaster flask anointing story of Jesus causes me to be certain of my mercy story.

Causes me to know I’m a child of God and that Jesus will always be my defender.

The story of Derrick Hawkins and his last comment about Jesus got me good.

I’m sure he didn’t plan it, my connecting with him.

But God did.

Got me thinking I understand mercy more now.

Mercy that’s rich.

That doesn’t chastise or refute me.

[bctt tweet=”Mercy finds me and says, that was then, this is now.” username=””]

My Heavenly Father saying

Yes, I know Lisa Anne but, Jesus.

And me in agreement saying, I’ll continue.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

“For we are his workmanship…”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Church on Sunday

I’m happy for the secluded corner, shady under the crepe myrtles.

How was church yesterday?

Were you moved?

Were your hands lifted high, even if only internally lifted?

Did you sense the spirit through the words of a Spirit filled messenger?

Did you cling to the assurance, God is faithful?

Did you sense the same elsewhere, in the simplicity of small earth underneath big sky?

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭19:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Barefooted and with a whole day to fill, I walk out with the pup watching to be sure he pees.

I plop down on the moist grass, thinking adults don’t sit on the ground in the shade, not usually.

But, what a gift. Because I decided church would be via my laptop, I sat and just sat, no hurry, just wait.

Warm breeze, birds singing, nothing much else.

I said my prayers there.

And left them.

This Monday morning, up early with puppy, my husband pauses groggy with his coffee and turns to ask me, “What you ponderin’?

I answered, “Nothing, just dozing.”

Which wasn’t totally true because I’d been wondering about the word “faithful” and whether that was true of me and whether it was attainable in the way I believed it to be.

Looked it up and confirmed by its definition, “loyal, constant, committed, steadfast” that I’m only faithful sporadically or truthfully just momentarily.

I walked outdoors, the pup and I, saying “Go potty” and standing at a distance to confirm that he pooped.

I waited. Looked up and waited.

The heavens opening up, clouds spread thin like marshmallows melting or foam of tide going out and leaving the fluff of the stirring sea.

I laid down on the grass in the same spot of my prayers, thinking no one my age lies down on the ground to see fully the heavens.

But you do, Lisa Anne you do.

Because you’re the pondering kind and you’re not concerned over being caught being childlike, sitting with your hands resting in your lap to pray or looking up lying down because that’s the only true spectacular view.

Church on Sunday was backyard prayers in pajamas.

Church on Monday was being captivated by heaven and realizing my faithfulness is to such activity as this.

Childlike lingering to ponder unashamed out in the backyard.

Yeah, I’m faithful to such things as this.

Listening for birds, hurrying to see the geese, hoping for intermittent promptings to pray prayers that are not spectacular and yet, flow like sweet supper conversations.

Monday morning findings of just one tiny rose bloom left for you to view.

I am learning, these are the faithful sought after traits God knows are mine and are mine to honor Him.

Be faithful in.

Noticing Him.

Being certain of heaven.

Less performance for God and more contemplation of Him.

More learning of acceptance and less calculative striving for answers.

Because the greatest answer is not a reply that says you’re worthy, we chose you, you’re our selection or show us more!

Maybe I’m only meant for little based on human definition.

For now, little consistently and faithfully is feeling much like much.

Thinking of heaven while still on earth, I’m faithful in this.

“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Sitting With Your Reply

Two men sat on the ground listening to the chaotic excited and curious crowd.

The disciples and Jesus coming into town welcomed by onlookers, critics and seekers.

Two blind men gauged the steps of the approaching healer. They shouted for his notice.

Others told them to hush their mouths!

Their shouts continued.

They were blind.

Together they must have decided it’s worth a try.

I think I would have too; taken the risk, especially if a friend said “Let’s try. I’ll ask if you will. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. This is our chance. Let’s do it! We might be healed! We might open our eyes and see!”

So, they likeminded, replied to the question from the mysterious healer.

“When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, “What do you want me to do for you?”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭20:32‬ ‭NLT‬‬

They told Jesus they wanted to see.

And they were healed immediately.

We can go either way with our take on this and other Jesus stories.

We can recall prayers we prayed a long time ago that must not have made it high enough for healing, we suppose.

Or we can sit with this question, imagine ourselves in the presence of Jesus.

Hearing his question.

We can sit a little longer, we can maybe close our eyes and notice only the whirring sound of the room’s electrically run things.

We can notice the quiet as if something’s being offered and if the offering is waiting our taking or our forfeit.

We can sit even a little longer, our every day habitual journal, our little trinkets on the table lamplit, and we are still very quiet.

Settled amazement over this very question awaiting our own current answer.

We can take up our pencil and we might begin on a clean page without other requests, doodles or gratitude tracking.

We can begin this way.

Jesus, I want you to…

Then we can express our secret thing then, the thing others have no need to know or to tell you it’s ridiculous or unrealistic to request such things.

What do you want Jesus to do?

Then we can go on with our days knowing we encountered Jesus today.

When He asked, I answered in a paragraph or two and summed it up with believing.

Jesus I want you to help me believe and to follow where my belief is leading.

To continue.

“Lord,” they said, “we want to see!” Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭20:33-34‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Followed him to believing.