Christmas, Come Soon

Children, Christmas, coronavirus, courage, Faith, grace, grandchildren, hope, Peace, Prayer, Stillness, Trust, Truth, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

The two homes on the cul de sac are inviting Christmas early. One changed overnight from a massive friendly ghost inflatable to a same size “Frosty” snowman waving at me as I walk by. The second, more subtle a view, the front door open to allow my peeking in, a tree lit simply in a corner. One reminding me of great big joy and the other a decided upon peace.

“Charlie Brown”

The tree is up early in my granddaughter’s room. My daughter, a teacher exhausted over what may come next for her students, watched Christmas movies with her baby, sang songs about jingling bells and dressed her in pink peppermint pajamas.

All of it, beauty!

The deciding to celebrate Christmas in November and groaning in our hearts and souls for a star, a sign symbolic of hope.

Jesus was born and everything changed.

And now centuries later, we are still longing for Christmas. We are so very weary, so very.

“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” O’ Holy Night

“Baby’s Tree”

The air was crisp on our walk this morning. We danced along with music in my pocket, looked towards the sky and we rubbed our hands on the cool ground and moss pillows on the hill.

Christmas, I wondered last night before sleeping, how will it be? Will the animosity over politics, vaccines, mask wearing or not wearing ever end?

Will Christmas be quiet this year, requiring less frantic buying and limited travel, limited dining together?

Will we be home alone?

If so, will we know this is God’s will for this time, His idea?

Will we trust in Jesus? Will we keep believing God sees us?

“Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭77:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Will we open our Bibles, find comfort in the likemindedness of the psalmist? Will we be reassured of His goodness because of the evidence of more goodness than we can possibly recall?

Will we see ourselves in the Gospels as we reacquaint ourselves with the birth to resurrection story of the baby born in a manger, Jesus?

Moss “Pillows”

I pray I am able, pray I avoid the trap of worry, of not knowing the last word in this season’s book and I pray the book becomes one of lessons with resolution not a cliffhanger waiting for the sequel.

Christmas, come early. Come sooner than later. We long for your star. We long for the peace it promised then and promises still.

“I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side
‘Til morning is nighBe near me, Lord Jesus
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me, I pray…” Away in A Manger”

Be near us Jesus, as we continue on the paths you place us.

Christmas, come soon. Find us as we find you again. Find ourselves remembering the meaning of Christmas, you, a Savior born for every single soul.

Future Plans and Surprises

bravery, Children, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, grandchildren, heaven, hope, Motherhood, Peace, Prayer, Truth, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom

I’m not sure why God, or maybe it’s life that did it, made my hopes and angst and wishes always be from the perspective of my children.

On earth as in heaven, I suppose I ask God for this. Quite often, I ask God to surprise my children, make them certain it was Him.

There are countless hopes my heart holds for them, some of them things they long for, some are ideas of my own.

I’m a mama of adult children. I can’t hold or control them. I can only pray with open hands and unnamed hopes with their names circled in my journal.

I give God control. He is a buffer of protection. He loves them more than I.

I want to know they are well and that they are loved well.

I want them (and me) to embrace heavenly things as pursuit in a time when earth is so uncertain.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I want them to see me trying, admitting it is hard and yet, waking up to try again.

Even on days and days on end when what’s ahead is unclear.

Put one step forward not backward. One step on days when a greater distance feels difficult or detoured by these crazy days.

Step forward, think forward.

Set your intentions on being intentional in the days ahead of not knowing much at all.

Considering maybe God is breaking our addiction to control this year to show us knowing everything doesn’t keep us safe.

It is only knowing Him that is safe at all.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭26:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Linking up with others prompted by the word “ahead”.

Ahead

Remembered By

Art, bravery, confidence, courage, curiousity, Faith, freedom, hope, Peace, Trust, Truth, voting, Vulnerability, wisdom

Do you make mental lists of things you’d like to be remembered by? Maybe that’s just what a sixty year old person does.

It happened again. Yesterday, my friend asked if my hair color was natural. It took a minute, I realized she was asking if I had happily resigned to go grey.

My hair is grey? Again, how did I miss this? I don’t spend a whole light of time on hair or makeup to be honest.

Makes me wonder if others say to themselves, well, Lisa retired and she just let herself go or

Maybe she relaxed into being herself.

We were outdoors on this beautiful day. I met my friend and her brother to take notes and hear the love story of the couple I’d be creating art for.

Ideas were shared, preferences in size and style. Mentions of things God has me doing through art and likeminded casual conversation about the goodness of God.

My friend’s brother listened as I shared the meaning of my life verse.

“In quietness and confidence is your strength.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

There was a pause and he spoke up, “I want to see your Bible.”

I thought of my Bible and smiled.

This morning I’m thinking of the weight of his wish, I’m thinking I may be remembered by the sketches in my Bible.

No better wish.

On this crisp morning, full moon later, Halloween and time change tomorrow, the shift is building, the tension mounting, the crucial critical day of Tuesday, voting.

But, I sit quietly. I open my Joy and Strength devotional to October 31. I read the ancient words from Deuteronomy.

Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee. Deuteronomy 8:2

This portion of a verse in a chapter headed “Remember the Lord your God”.

Words used by Moses as reminders of the forty years of wilderness, the humbling and then the provision of manna.

Remember God.

The chapter ends with a serious warning, timely for our day.

“And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭8:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’m not qualified to argue politics. I love people and I love God. Loving God, though, is my priority, my calling, my navigation.

I understand the sound of God’s gentle warning that He gives before He needs to speak more boldly.

I will heed the warning of Moses. I will take care lest I forget the Lord my God by not keeping His commandments and his rules and statutes. (Deuteronomy 8:11)

I will remember the wilderness He pulled me from and I will treasure an unexpected hope of another who reminded me of what matters when he sweetly said, “I want to see your Bible.”

Me too, Tommy,

Me too. I want to always be able to see my Bible. Even when my eyes are squinty and my hair fully silver. I want to hold my Bible in my lap, underline the exhortations, sketch in the margin faces of women like me, women God found. Women who remember.

Continue and believe.

Believe. In quiet confidence is your strength.

(Don’t) Tell All

bravery, coronavirus, courage, depression, Faith, hope, kindness, Peace, rest, Stillness, Truth, Vulnerability, waiting, wonder

The cashier at Target wasn’t speaking clearly. I couldn’t understand her when she totaled up the stuff in my buggy.

I know the jokes about how Target trips always slip up on you when it’s time to pay.

But, this time it was the mask(s). She and I were struggling to speak clearly, to understand one another.

Hold Us Together, Together

I thought of telling someone how I was feeling the other day and then I didn’t.

Buried it, the best kept secret.

They have enough of their own I decided.

But, the more I thought about the burdens we are masking, the more concerned I am about the damage it is doing.

We’re all becoming way too okay with staying hidden, with keeping our sorrows to ourselves in a kind attempt not to add to the distress of another, family, friend or anyone else.

I think most of us are overwhelmed. Most of us know those around us are as well.

So we keep it to ourselves.

We don’t admit the feeling of being alone, all by ourselves, because we don’t want to let on that we are really feeling hopeless.

Or maybe some are not.

Still, I am worried that we’re keeping too much to ourselves.

Today I had the chance to hear from a likeminded soul.

We despise the masks required of us. They make us sad, angry, concerned that we can’t say so because others will call us selfish.

And that one ten minute exchange gave me hope, gave me freedom, told me another human understands.

I hope God sends someone your way who will listen and that you’ll be energized by the commonalities, by the similar angst.

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I urge you not to keep your fears hidden, your fatigue over uncertain futures, your walking around in a daze akin to disassociation.

I pray you find an encourager, a listener who is open to your “tell all” conversation and that you come away better; known, loved and heard.

I pray I open my heart to the heartaches of others and that I reciprocate the kind listening I was gifted today.

Unimaginable Things

Abuse Survivor, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, grief, heaven, hope, Peace, rest, Salvation, Truth, Vulnerability, wonder

“We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat which sits in the heavenly realm beyond the sacred threshold,”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭6:19‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Hope is the thing that gives us permission to imagine, more than imagine, be sure of when there seems so little clarity, even less certainty.

Hope does not, cannot disappoint us, the hope of things not seen, heavenly things.

Hope is not a visible thing and at times makes little sense. Hope is internal, it is God planted, it is that tiny idea of a seed that begins with believing.

Then it grows when God comes close through His Spirit in our soul.

“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:24-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Hope, like God’s Spirit in our souls is an advocate, a guide, a loyal friend. We question the worth of our hope in tragic or trying times.

We catch ourselves falling into the trap of despondency, dismay, anger, doubt or heavy grief.

We stay there maybe, it’s okay. Hope never leaves. We gradually find it, it finds us again.

Because hope does not disappoint.

“And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:5‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I’m not sure we can make it without hope. I’m certain actually, that I could not.

We cannot see hope, can’t put it on the calendar, hold it in our hands, display it in our homes.

It’s visible only to the soul tethered to God. It’s visible in sometimes secret ways. Other times it holds hands with others and we join in our feeble grips in being anchored together.

We are hopeful. We’ve been promised eternity. We believe it.

Life, Living and No Chance at All

Children, courage, Faith, rest, Trust, Truth, Vulnerability

I walked midday, a change from my schedule. No music, no podcast wisdom. I’d adjusted my shoes, the ankle pain lingering.

Hereditary maybe plus jumping from the steps in my 20’s instead of stepping.

My ankle compromised by my choices.

I walked and prayed and thought, remembered about a week ago I returned from walking, sweaty and breathless because I’d added in jogging, my husband sat waiting in the chair he likes in the garage.

He’d been again, watching the news.

So, I spewed all my thoughts on lives mattering and he let me. He listened, I bet was entertained, my talking with expressive hands.

I’m not typically vocal. Even less often assertive. I’m extremely conflict avoidant.

I told him how I felt about the “all lives matter” cultural trend.

People who I thought believed like me are widening the meaning of sanctity of life to include lives lost to violence, poverty, other.

Likening a life that never had a choice to other lives ended in adulthood, still too soon.

I said, “A woman gets pregnant and decides on abortion. Maybe there’s addiction. Maybe there is fear. Maybe there’s a father or a parent because of secrecy, coercing. Maybe there is selfishness, plans for something other. Maybe there is worry that there will be no roof to cover baby’s head. Maybe there are other reasons.

The woman sees a doctor, clinician or other. Woman’s choice leads to destruction of life, disposal.

And the baby had no choice.

In the beginning, God created… Genesis 1:1

I asked my husband to think of times he skirted with wrong places, wrong time, to consider our own sons might have easily made choices that led to criminal ways.

Could’ve been influenced by drugs, alcohol, anger or even bitter resentment. Could’ve decided to get in the face of an officer and not let up, not let go until force led to extreme response.

Unfortunate choices made by young people and adults often lead to lives cut short.

A few weeks ago, I heard my friend tell of what God had spoken, “That wasn’t my intention.”

When babies were announced despite Co-Vid, I found myself thinking, saying,

Babies are evidence that God is saying, ‘Keep living’.”

Children are God’s creation.

We were all children once.

Created uniquely by God and for a purpose, to live fully while living closer daily to Him.

“In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭17:28‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’m perplexed over the lumping of all lives together, lives that never had a choice to see what God could do and lives cut short in angry, wrongful, ugly ways.

But, those are different tragedies.

They are not the same. I prayed today, that more influential and articulate voices than mine would cause the bending of ears, the stirring of souls, the returning to the beginning, the intentional beginning of us by God.

In the beginning, God created.

We can be sorrowful over injustice. We can shake our heads over how long it has gone on. We can pray for the difference that’s beginning to be strong. But, we can’t compare a life with no chance at all, to a life cut short, gone wrong or taken tragically. To one with no chance at all.

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

Sweet Release, Truth and Tears

Abuse Survivor, bravery, confidence, courage, Faith, freedom, hope, memoir, mercy, Peace, Redemption, Truth, Vulnerability, wonder
Before the Morning

Jesus wept. John 11:35

The situation was dire. His friend Lazarus had died. His arrival to save him was delayed.

I am thinking of a young woman who bravely told her story of domestic violence on social media.

Photos with captions of what was happening instead of what her posed by his side and pretty face portrayed.

Photos hard to look at for long, one dark purple encircled eye balancing the other’s vacant expression and her arm marked by a bruise from grabbing.

This young woman is from the place I call home.

She is brave, was brave.

Most likely very afraid.

I fell asleep with private tears puddled near my ear. I fell asleep with the acceptance of my own truth.

A truth I’d been over and over rethinking.

Certainly, there was good.

Turning Corners

For some reason, I just don’t remember it. Surely, your years all running together could not have contained that much hurt, that much fear, that much abuse.

I breathed deeply again and tried to rewind my life in my 20’s movie. I longed to believe the trauma had simply erased the happy like they say it does the hard,

As sort of our brain’s protective role.

But, that made and makes no sense at all. Why would the brain and its memory reservoir dry up the good, deny the times of love?

Two nights ago, tears came and my soul felt sad and then gently at peace, relieved.

Yes, physical and emotional abuse by a man who began as a date is a part of my story.

Being a captive and being brainwashed into keeping it secret is a chapter in my life.

Now, even more healing will have its chance to do what it has been preparing me for, what God kept me alive to do.

Mercy Every Morning

I see the waking up slowly of me and I see the tears that were not brought on by long ago pain, rather the welling up of hope, I see the beautiful things that have already begun and will now be free to finish.

As I turned the long clay lane to my granddaughter yesterday morning, a song came.

I crept up the winding hill, turned on to the sandy path we walk and hold hands. I careened in slowly to my place on the hill.

Safely I arrived and safe I shall be.

I hope you’ll listen.

Josh Garrel’s rendition of “Farther Along” makes me happy every time.

Makes me hopeful. Makes me content in not being all knowing.

Farther Along

Father, thank you for the honesty you allow, the truth of us you slowly guide into revelations with sweet, never bitter tears. Thank you for words, for bravery even if new. Thank you for helping me continue, to continue and believe. Thank you for my present love and safety, the embrace of family.

Because of mercy, Amen

Me.

I am thinking still of the young woman and her photos, meant to share her truth and to help others. I’m thinking of her bravery and the way I still hesitate to say that I was a victim of abuse.

I think of how some days, like yesterday, I’m still ashamed and afraid to tell. And I’m grateful for days like today when I choose “publish” instead of “trash”. I choose believing there is so much good to see.

“Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
‭‭John‬ ‭11:40‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’m linking up with Mary Geisen and others at “Tell His Story”. This time we’re in has welcomed many quiet revelations. Read here: https://marygeisen.com/are-you-using-your-time-wisely/?

What Could Happen

9/11, Abuse Survivor, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, hope, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Truth, Vulnerability

Up early and uncertain whether I had again gratefully “woken up well”, I walk outside to see the pink sky in the distance, wishing our home was set either on a hill or not bordered by tall trees and houses.

If that were so, I could see the wide morning. Instead, I look upward and the half moon is above me, surrounded by the remnant of two clouds breaking thinly away.

I wished for a different sky. I had hoped the day would bring rain.

A rainy day that could give permission for thinking, make seclusion seem more pleasant.

On this day, nineteen years ago, destruction changed our country, altered our thinking of what could happen.

For years, the color code marking threat bordered our television screens.

For days on end I wondered when it would happen again, certain that it could. Another attack by people who hated us, another planned explosion in places where people congregated.

It could happen again.

For now, there are other “coulds”, the resounding murmuring amongst one another.

Rather than explosion, I sense a subtle threat to our togetherness, I fear we are imploding, a caving in.

Don’t get too close, she may be sick. Don’t touch the door, it could have the viral contaminated touch of someone else. Don’t forget your mask, don’t let your worn out mask shift and uncover your nose.

Don’t hug the friend you encounter that you’ve not seen in years.

You could get sick, you could make others unwell. You could cause pain to others.

This predisposition to high alert stances based on what could happen is much like a phrase I’m just now embracing.

Don’t borrow trouble.

Two hours ago, I woke up too early. I was thirsty and had what my grandma called a “dull” headache. I moved from my bed to the kitchen for water.

Today, I did not pray, “thank you God, I woke up well.”

But, now I am because I was sullenly anticipating dread. I was alert to what could happen because of it happening all around me, inundated with a sense of foreboding,

A man in the Bible, mentioned just a couple of times, Jabez confronted his predisposed “could happens” with a prayer that God answered.

“Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.”
‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The mother of Jabez chose his name that meant pain and told him so, of all the brothers, his birth had caused her great pain.

Could it be so for us? That we acknowledge what harms could come our way and simply ask God to prevent them.

Knowing He can?

I’m not so naive to live the fairy tale that all pain can be avoided. This world, our country gets more angry and full of fear and evil every day.

Still, I can open my hand to heaven now and again later and say “Thank you, I am well. It is well. I will not fear. You are near.”

Like Jabez, I can set my intentions on what God can do not what could happen.

I love to think of other choices that could have been made by people in the Bible. Jabez knowing he was least likely to have a life without pain based on his name could have chosen to cower, could have accepted his position among his brothers, to be careful, to fear pain, to prepare for the worst case scenarios and so, to hide away.

He didn’t. He asked God for the ability to see opportunities, to be kept safe in his pursuit of them and to live a life from which we get the phrase, not just blessed; but, blessed indeed.

The purple flowers that seem to be summer withered have sprinkled petals heavy from humidity all along the border.

I bent over to try to see the sunrise in the distance and noticed a new thing.

The scent from the purple bloom. All summer long I’ve walked past and now almost mid-September, my attention was drawn.

The sweet smell of still hanging on, the still tint of soft indigo and lavender, the gift of finding beauty in my subdivided back yard.

The firm decision not to borrow trouble; instead to be aware of it and to ask God to keep me from it.

Then to remember, not knowing how or if or whether it was sudden.

God granted what he asked.

He will for us as well.

This truth I shall remember when I ponder “what could”.

Remember only the possibility of good.

Our lives are not what are circumstances say they are, rather they are what God says “could happen” if we trust Him.

If we continue, continue and believe.

This post was prompted by the word “could” from Five Minute Friday (I link up although I’m rarely five minutes or under in thinking or writing.) Read others’ words here:

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Could {+ free training for writers}

Others Too

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, curiousity, fear, memoir, mercy, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Truth, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

Last week I read about the longing for resonance. At least this was my interpretation, we long for resonance and for whatever we choose and how we use it, to resonate with others.

This idea made an impression.

Told me to write about the sky, the tiny roses, the way the baby laughs over a shared popsicle time.

God doesn’t want us to feel small, simply know we are smaller than Him.

me

You are loved.

You are seen.

You are not finished.

Yesterday morning, I woke with a longing to understand the “stuck in the middle” me.

So, I prayed about it, scribbled a sleepy question in my journal.



What is a calling and how do you know?

Me

It felt serious, the question like risk analysis of quitting or resuming. It was a question about why ideas feel so tangibly possible only to be set aside because of fear.

I’m thinking art again, and I’m thinking manuscripts. I’m asking God is this calling or is it just something good I love to do?

There seems to be (at least to me) a whole lot of pressure to call out to the world our callings.

Maybe, the calling is simply to be attentive to the call towards God and to keep getting closer.

Perhaps any other pursuit of calling can’t help but be tainted by selfish endeavor.

Maybe the call is to continue and I suppose see what develops. Crazy we can’t be content with that, we need to feel pressure in our pursuit I guess.

Unexpectedly, I received a request to contribute to a writing community. Out of the blue it would seem.

But, I know better.

Something about my Instagram resonated and this leader of the community sent an invitation.

The sky last evening told me stories, the sort of story I told long ago and had stopped sharing.

The quest for bigger calling made my sky stories seem odd and irrelevant.

The sky with the heart shaped window, the brilliant moon that saw me growing and the bend in the road that said, God is calling.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

A new question today, a prayer.

God, how can I resonate with others? Help me to see the calling as a calling towards you.

me

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Jesus
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬