When she’s older I’ll tell her that I love the thick branches, the way it’s so old but still strong and I’ll tell her that its green leaves against the ash colored limbs just bring me comfort. I love the way it leans as if resting.
I’ve not misplaced my faith nor have I given up on prayer.
I wrote about helplessness yesterday, about how it feels as if we’ve got no other choice.
I don’t regret my thoughts becoming words and landing here.
It’s my blog after all and all along I’ve only written honestly.
I thought about prayer today, what it is to me and what it does.
A simple prayer was spoken on my knees in the shower last week.
Jesus, please comfort her where she needs it.
Hurtful words had been shared and repeated. Like a pinch on a soft part of your arm that the bully won’t let go, it left a sting.
And I didn’t respond. I thought it better to let it go. I considered what may have caused the harsh words.
I remembered I just can’t know.
When I asked God to comfort, I was comforted. I left it with Him and I no longer felt hurt.
Because I just can’t know.
Tonight, I’m thinking of the Texas families. I’m deficient in understanding and only know from experience with those grieving, this is a long and winding and without navigation road, the death of a child.
So, I ask God to comfort.
I accept my place in this offering of prayer.
I join the chorus of others who pray.
And I have faith in the God who is comforting. Who is mighty, strong, unwaveringly there.
If me deciding against anger and instead inviting God’s comfort to a tiny trivial thing can bring such sweet peace.
I know the angels and armies are stretched wide and locking arms in an answer.
After three days with no writing or painting, I returned to my “sanctuary” on Sunday afternoon.
It was as before, it was life giving, the losing track of time and paint on my hands and forehead.
All afternoon, I painted.
I followed my husband’s suggestion. He noticed I was isolating and told me to stop spending so much time in “that room”.
When I did, I thought of other things. Things other than the canvases piling up, other than hopes that seem to have no place to land in this seemingly hopeless land.
I noticed the hardships of others. I paid attention to sorrowful eyes on masked faces. I observed the way we all seem to be walking together reluctantly, like lambs headed for slaughter.
I recalled my work with depression and suicide. I recalled the one thing more important than any other.
The one in need asking for help, and the listener being committed to listening and helping.
I thought of situational depression in comparison to chemical.
I realized, maybe now (I’m not an expert) it makes no difference. Isolation, depression, anger or sullenness, no respecter of persons.
And I revisited my career long reminder.
Be kind. Everyone is fighting a hard battle.
Here we are on another Monday feeling like the never ending mystery of our days.
I turned to Matthew, today marked Chapter 7, about not judging others wrongly, considering their conditions could be yours.
I read ahead, drawn towards a healing story.
Longing to remember the healer, longing to remember the one needing healing.
Wanting to feel touched by another’s story.
This one, a single soul held captive by an ugly disease. He was a leper, one others avoided.
He was brave enough to believe and saw the throng of people along with Jesus descending from the mountain down into the valley where he stayed hidden.
He asked for help.
“And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matthew 8:2-3 ESV
Today, I’ll remember those who are struggling more than most, more than me.
I’ll pray they find a listener, are able to express their pain and that the ears that welcome their anger or dismay, offer a heart and hand of patient compassion.
I pray that I am able to offer the same, whether words or canvas or eyes that smile instead of look away when I meet another seeking soul, a gentle lamb trusting God and in need of healing.
May we find each other in our quest for healing. May we continue to believe in the audacity of believing.
Seems like yesterday, but it was I guess, twenty or so years ago. I cut the big branches from the sycamore tree and laid them in the back seat. Leaves as big as my two hands together. I had a plan for my room. I was assigned the lesson on Zacchaeus.
The branches touched the ceiling in the tiny room where I created a scene to tell the children about how a man moved from the top of a tree hoping just to see Jesus, to having him as a guest in his home.
On the night I was to teach the lesson, the room disappointed. The church trying to save electricity had turned off the air conditioning. I was met by wilted leaves and a room that was consumed by humidity, a swampy smell. The “tree” I built in the corner was wilted, not special or impressive for the little children at all.
The tree was no longer a part of the lesson. Ten or so boys and girls sat in front of me in a circle on a rug we imagined was the tax collector’s home.
I taught them about the man who said yes to Jesus coming inside. They listened as I told them of the man up in the tree who never thought he’d meet Jesus, he just wanted to see unnoticed by others, the one who was spreading hope and love, a healer.
Then Jesus said, I’m not just passing by, I’m headed to your house today, climb down from that (ridiculous) tree.
The story continues with the criticism of others who knew Zacchaeus as a rich man, a cheater, a scoundrel you may say.
None of that mattered to Jesus. He set his sights on people unworthy from others’ perspectives.
I’m one of those.
Later, we’ll be having a big crowd at our house. We will celebrate a birthday. Children will swim in our pool, cousins will feel like it’s a reunion party. There will be noisy conversation, peach cobbler, baked beans, popsicles, etc.
My husband asked me if I was ready just now. He knows I’m an introvert, he’s familiar with the mystery of my yearning for quiet.
Almost a year ago, I began to wear this little bracelet. It’s paint covered sometimes, it’s a little soiled from my walking in this southern heat. It is stretched and weathered.
A tiny charm adorns it. One side says “faith” and the other, “my saint, my hero”. I don’t consider myself a saint nor a hero.
I do know that faith is my mainstay. I don’t need to know if the giver of this bracelet considers me her hero. I just need to continue in my faith and hope others who come around me see it. I need to remember Jesus as my hero. I need to live in a house of faith.
That when others come to my house, they might get a sense that Jesus had been by too, either in the waking prayer of morning, the first step outdoors to see the sun leave layers on the green or in the way I welcome them in.
Where I lack in hospitality, may there be the evidence of my faith.
“And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:9-10 ESV
Zacchaeus, a rich man met Jesus unexpectedly in his home and then carried on from there more honest, more generous, more unashamed.
I heard a familiar tune from the hallway. Must’ve been stuck in his head from the Sunday service we watched on the TV in the den. Neither of us sang along. Church at home still weird.
I told him, I heard you can’t be sad or angry if you’re humming or whistling.
No response really.
But, he did resume his whistling as he walked away.
“Nobody loves me like you love me, Jesus!” Chris Tomlin
I woke up with this lyric. God wakes me up with songs some mornings. I think it’s sweet. I’m not a singer except in my car or the shower. I’m not even one to sing loud if someone’s in the car with me. I’m too self-conscious to raise my hands in church but I have found myself lately walking through my neighborhood with my palm to heaven, have driven down the road with one hand lifted in praise.
Maybe it’s God saying I know you’re longing to sing and you’ll be singing very soon. Maybe it’s just a truth I need.
Truth is, nobody knows me and loves me like Jesus. I can tell him my deepest regrets and He is gentle, not a harsh critic or a negative reply.
More importantly I can tell Him the sweetest possibilities I hope for and He knows the significance. He’s not surprised by my surprise over me being blessed in some way, chosen for something that is a deep deep longing, so deep a desire it’s kept secret.
But, He knows.
I stand in awe of His amazing ways.
“Nobody loves me like You love me, Jesus I stand in awe of Your amazing ways I worship You as long as I am breathing God, You are faithful and true…”Chris Tomlin
“Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” John 14:5 ESV
When I’m not certain how to join a conversation, I sometimes don’t say anything. I linger with my questions, I gather information.
I acknowledge my lack of understanding. I tell myself this is just too much for a well meaning but insufficient response. Situations over lives lost violently and unnecessarily weigh heavy on my heart. I am not equipped with words to make a dent in the dismay.
I turned to John today, led by my ancient Roman numerically referenced devotional, “Joy and Strength”.
A drawing in the margin illustrated the question asked by Thomas, “How can we know the way?”
I realized Jesus had told them, shown them, modeled it along.
The way is love.
John, chapters 13 and 14, tell the touching story of the love of Jesus.
Jesus, confusing the disciples by sitting at their feet with a basin of water, choosing the dirtiest of their parts, feet familiar with dirt, and he washed their feet.
He was teaching that you do what seems unfitting for you to do, you take it a step farther than telling about Him or giving food or shelter or telling their own Jesus story.
No, you love others if they’re different, you love people who walk on different roads other than your own.
You acknowledge that their steps are led by God enabled feet and journeys, joys and woes.
Feet like your own.
Made by God, loved by God.
Led by God.
Led by love.
All sorts of words can be said about choosing love.
It’s the choosing that matters, not really the words we’ve known so very long and already know.
It’s the choosing to love when that’s all you know or when that’s “all you got” in unthinkable ungodly situations.
“And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:4-6 ESV
Love is the way.
Love, the way to God.
Through the sacrificial death of Jesus, the washer of our faltering feet.
Prompted me to know I’ll be put in places I might be afraid to go.
I will go.
God will be with me.
It’s gonna be okay.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to pray the prayer for families at this evening’s National Day of Prayer event. I was asked I was told because of my lifetime of working with families.
I do not know what my prayer will be. I am imperfect in my own family experiences. I could freeze as I’m introduced, thinking what if everyone knows how I haven’t always been a prayerful girl, mama, wife or woman? I could have the words choke me when I try to summon them up. I’ve been a single mama, not always the best one at it.
But, just like Lauren, God sets the stage, we just step forward.
About a month ago, I was interviewed by a local magazine about my choice to retire. The question was posed “What do you want your grandchild to know?”
I want my grandchild to know that the most important thing is love, is loving one another.
A couple of weeks later the request came, that I pray the prayer for families. It was followed by a letter with the agenda and the header on the letter featuring 2019’s theme.
Love one another.
There are no accidents with God.
There are no opportunities brought our way that He will not equip us to carry out.
You and I are loved by a loving God. A God that takes hold of our shaking hand until we can breath without pressure and waits until we are ready to speak, to sing, to pray.