“for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”
Ephesians 5:8 ESV
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.’”
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.
“Lord,” they said, “we want to see!” Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.”
Two days ago I chastised myself for being selfish.
My quiet time was altered, I longed for a thing I got and when it required so much of me shifting my attention, I got a little hopeless, got a little embarrassed and considered I’m not capable after all.
Then I added to the dilemma, rationalizing my pitiful. It makes me anxious, it feels like attack, I got bitten one time, remember, by a crazy German Shepherd…!
I’m ashamed looking back that I considered my home should not be his.
I’ll not linger here. Let’s just say there was justified shaming and the shaming and the perspectives of those giving it were, well…accurate.
Point taken. No need for further discussion.
It didn’t really hit me until we were alone, the pup and I and over and over my mind verified.
“Selfish, so selfish, so selfish.”
When I told my husband beseeching his understanding…”He won’t even let me read my Bible!”
There was no reply from him other than “Give it time.”
So we bonded that evening, I cleaned up from his accident and then bathed him. (The pup not my hubby😊).
Then a crazy crazy thing happened to say don’t get cocky here, there’s still work to do and patience required.
A blue jay was trapped on our screened in porch. I stood to watch it up high in the corner, turned to get the broom to shoo it to freedom, instead it landed even more trapped behind the grill.
In seconds the puppy pounced!
I freaked out.
This situation grew more intense despite my screaming as the puppy ran through the door and to a private place to finish, to end it.
Crazy how I tried to pry the bird free, pulling nothing from the puppy’s locked jaws but cobalt blue, grey, black feathers.
I was beside myself. There’s a reason my daughter calls me the “crazy bird lady”.
It’s not because of my crazy but my crazy love for birds, my captivating interest in seeing them as if they are my messengers.
The bird was gone, totally gone and in the belly of the pup.
Apparently this is a thing. Google confirmed it.
Although I kept repeating to my husband “He ate a live bird!!!! That can’t be okay.”
It happens. He pooped it out the next day and it was regular, no obvious little bones or feathers.
Thank you, Jesus for that mercy.
So, this perspective thing. I won’t get into too much and thereby add to my shame. My daughter has a newborn. She reminded me about commitment, patience, adjustment.
She also said “Well, you’ve got a huntin’ dog.”
Her husband added in his sweet loving his mother in law in all her exaggerations and crazy ways way…
“Puppies do those things.”
My son’s perspective,
“Dogs will be dogs.”
I’m working through some things I have learned in the last year about the perspective of one who experienced trauma.
Trauma is the reason for so many reactions; but, it can’t become your rationalization for inappropriate behavior.
At the same time it matters. It is a part of my texture, can’t be unwound, unthreaded, “unhappened”.
“My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:20-23 ESV
Puppies nip at body parts because that’s what puppies do. It is play. Puppies do not pounce or bite because they know you’ve been backed into corners and pounced upon by big evil mean dogs who were men.
Our reactions must shift.
My perspective must not default in every situation back to fear, to anxiety to trauma.
More importantly we can’t use our trauma as a scapegoat for unpleasantries about ourselves we’d prefer not to admit.
Like giving up on a commitment or a goal.
Like being afraid when fear makes no sense at all.
Like claiming attack when no one’s against you, you just are still craving rescue.
Still looking in the wrong places to be found.
So, the perspective is shifting. No need to fight anymore. You’re a victor not a victim.
If you’re reading this and thinking that’s ridiculous that she’s comparing trauma to an uncontrollable puppy.
It is ridiculous; but, it’s also real and it’s also changeable when we choose to see from God’s perspective.
The intent of past trauma is to change your perspective of every single soul you encounterfrom hope to fear.
The enemy longs to keep us tied to fear and sometimes the enemy is deeply embedded.
That is, until we get brave and sick of fear.
I am almost 8000 words into the book God has formed in me about my past trauma(s).
I have finished the proposal and it just waits now for editing.
The original idea was an expose’ of trauma and all the ones who I felt needed reminding in case they needed to remember what kept them from saving me back then.
Sigh, what an undeserving unnecessary story.
That’s not the idea now.
It’s honest and it’s a perspective that calls me out in the horror of it all and more a tribute to the “Jesus in them” despite of it all.
It’s not a shocking story, more a settlement of my story and the redemption and hope waiting us all.
Charlie the pup lies beside me all curled up.
Shortly, I’ll head to my desk to pray and then edit. He will curl up in the corner next to my feet and he’ll be with me.
With me as I change my perspective of victim of trauma to brave child of God and optimistic survivor.
I told myself feelings are not facts and I do believe it.
Add that little saying to all the others, Lisa Anne, over time your happy heart will override your frenzied mind.
Will cushion the knowing that’s gonna grow you, will soften the edges of you, will be a plump pillow for your head at day’s end, sweet rest for the soul.
I listen to a whole lot of stuff when I’m walking, wisdom and or lyrical voices.
I’m particular with my listening, not my favorite thing to learn from tones that are “chipper”.
Cut out the pretty words. I crave what I already know, just need a voice confirming on a firmer note.
I’m down to just a few now, podcasts that are good fits for me.
Yesterday, I silenced my phone.
I paused the voice that was the same as so many with a similar exhortation.
I already knew. I already know.
I’ve got extra blank space now. I’m not sure I’ve ever had so much room in my thoughts for things to grow.
I’m challenged to accept the void of activity. I resist the not knowing what may be next or not come at all.
I walked bored with others’ knowledge and I saw the geese behind their mama all swimming in a row.
But, first I heard them, the rhyme and rhythm of their following along.
I paused then walked on.
I turned the steep sharp corner carefully and hearing a rattling engine moved to the far edge of the high grass.
I was prepared; but, not to be startled, an old van, a bearded tank top man and a head down in the darkness passenger in his midst.
“I’m walking.” I answered when he asked if I needed a ride and then added, “I walk everyday.” wishing I hadn’t added that and hoping he didn’t hear.
He drove away.
I approached the place where the Labrador loved to sit and I heard the croak of a frog off someplace and I remembered the creek of my childhood and those simple and yet complex days.
We walked every day. We took off to our simple shady quiet place.
I turned towards home and saw the bright blooms of summer, found the hidden key, let myself in and then double locked the door.
Later, I told the neighbor, I’ll be walking a new way, find cut throughs through yards. She said okay, suggested I leave one ear without music.
I told my husband.
He listened and agreed on new ways to get to the cul de sacs, the neighborhood and finally the trail I love.
I mentally made a plan.
I expected to be afraid in my sleep, awakened by the encounter of the ones in the old tagless used and beat up van.
But I wasn’t.
I considered the possible intent of the man and I am responding accordingly, not afraid,
I’m changing, I’m listening. I’m learning.
Feelings do not write your stories.
Listen more to what you are seeing now.
Your story was written so very long ago by the one who knows you now and then and in all the days to come.
“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.”
Psalms 139:1-3 NLT
Notice the one who takes unending notice of you.
You, who God made fearfully and wonderfully well.
“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!”
I read the response of another the other day… “Who would you like meet?” His answer was “Jesus.”
And then another in a different place, oddly the same question posed. This person answered “Paul”.
Paul, the writer of, with certainty, eight books of the New Testament. Paul, who was a horrid man who was known as Saul who met Jesus and commenced with the telling of his truth from there.
At some point, I pencilled in clarification on a passage.
The verse describing the life of Jesus in me,
“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
2 Corinthians 4:10 NIV
We carry around in us what Jesus died to save us from, our human tendencies, our vulnerabilities, our bends towards atrocities even. We carry with us the humanity of us and we simply seek to lessen its hold.
Paul knew who and what He had been. He celebrated when the “outwardness” of him was being overshadowed, wasting away by the developing of the inner him, Jesus in him.
He was focused on eternity and driven to tell others so.
That was his story line, the telling and retelling of his rescue for a purpose story.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV
The words I wrote in the margin are barely visible, words forming a question about my own vulnerabilities and the display of them making me more aware of the human me… a gradual revelation, the changes to the heart of me.
I won’t say I’ve come a long way. I just know I am not the same, not who I was.
The same as Paul.
The margin as of today has a sketch of a girl in repose.
She sees how far she’s come and she knows she has a big part in how far she will go.
The coming to terms with her story being incomparable to any other.
She cares less although not quite enough yet about herself as she does others.
What’s your story?
She is accepting that her part is just to keep telling in written and painted creation, occasionally or eventually maybe before an audience or in a small circle.
We will not know fully unless we go, simply go forward to the places we get to glance back on and say,
I did it.
I kept going.
My story is not so scary as before, not so tinted by affliction colors.
Strongly, we step forward.
We leave behind us for others, through our stories.
We just prompt another to wonder.
We cause them to consider why we believe in something we don’t yet fully know, why we yearn to keep learning.
And given opportunity, we answer to tell,
We believe because believing is the closest thing to hope.
And because we our story of before, all of our vulnerabilities and afflictions only mercy references and notes for the rest of our story.