All Promises Forgotten

There’s a wide empty field there. An expanse of open where the sunbeams fall in different ways through the trees.

A sound sometimes catches me, a squirrel, a bird or so soft it could be just the movement of the weeds.

Yellow pops of joy on top of tall green.

I consider this midpoint on the trail, the level place before I shift to jog and then struggle up the sudden steep place of a curving hill.

Then round the corner, oh it feels so free!

I am effortless, I swoosh past the houses. I careen.

There is no easy stride without the one that requires an inward decision to keep going.

There is no bliss over arriving finally without the questionable continuing your journey.

Today is the day between the dark death of Jesus Christ and the glorious morning a mourner discovered the empty tomb.

Today is the middle day, the day marked by all promises forgotten.

Jesus told them it would be so.

A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me. Jesus, to the disciples. John 16:16

‭‭

Yet, it was so very hard to believe.

The miracle of it all.

I believe.

Much of life gets hard when we are in between. This morning I read that God keeps all of His promises.

I’m prone to worry over whether or not that could be true for me, that’s the human in me as was the human in Jesus.

In the garden he prayed, if it is possible for me to achieve what is your will for every human, the creative works of your hand, if it is possible,

Father, God maybe you have another plan.

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:41-42, 45-46‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In what ways have you suffered?

What memories have you that represent redemption, foster continued hope?

What years of depression and dismay have you survived?

Here’s an example from my Instagram on yesterday:

Why I believe in redemption. I open the mail thinking it’ll be just a copy of my diploma, instead it’s an emotional chronicle of about 10 or so years. I lost my art scholarship, came home to try Georgia Southern. Some things happened because of me and to me. In 1982, it ended, Academic Suspension. 10 years later, I began again and graduated “In Good Standing”. #thecolorsofmybible #redemptionstory #nevertoolate #beginagain

Everything is restorable.

Struggle yields hope.

What is meant to destroy, through Christ, seeking His will, pairing it with human discipline and determination, is a redeemable starting point for a story.

I’m not who I was.

Happy Easter weekend.

Continue and believe.

The Gift of Memory

A friend is praying that God would give me memory.

I’ve lost something I haven’t needed in years and I cannot find it, my college diploma.

Yesterday, my pregnant daughter asked if I remembered a certain pain and I didn’t, so I blamed it on one thing I did remember harshly…when it was actually another, my lack of memory,

Then told her it’s true what they say.

You don’t remember the pain once your baby is here.

I’m wondering if my friend’s prayers are stirring my memories as a whole, of all sorts of things.

I woke with first thought, prayer.

God, help me to know you more.

There are disjointed possibilities in my life, a new one popped up yesterday. I gotta circle back around, finish multiple things, my mind and plans chaotic over stuff begun and not finished

My thoughts are all over the place.

I make the coffee, open the door for fresh air and I remember.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

An elderly couple lived below us, my younger brother and me. We were not quiet apartment dwellers. We were single and in our 20’s. We frequented “River Street” in Savannah and found our way back home safely, how?

God only knows.

I watched them on Sundays, they’d come and go clutching Bibles, holding hands.

I avoided them in my comings and goings until one day in the stairwell, I came face to face with the husband, a sharply dressed gentleman.

I asked, “How can I know God’s will?”

He answered simply, “Know God.”

That was two decades ago and his answer left me hanging, left me lacking not longing. I wanted so much more than an answer so broad.

I desired a quick list or an easy plan.

I wanted it “one and done” for me, quickly fix me, God, I know you can!

Perfection, I yearned for, had no understanding of grace, God’s patience, His allowance of progression.

How in the world could we imagine God’s will as only quick when, after all, He has us and the whole world in His hands? He orders our seconds, minutes, hours and days. Their unfolding, He knows.

I understand the simplicity yet mystery now.

His pursuit of me is graceful and grace-filled.

There’s no end road to knowing God’s will.

It is a beautiful unraveling, a revealing of splendor and clarity and abundance as we go.

As we go unaffected by our daze and confusion only illumined by His spirit, His dwelling within us.

How do we know God’s will? I believe we remain quietly intent in our pursuit of Him.

He knows. Just ask Him.

God is everywhere. Don’t forget to notice. me

Linking up today with others at Five Minute Friday who are writing on the prompt “Lack”. https://fiveminutefriday.com/2019/04/11/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-lack/

Lace and Roses

“And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Pink Happy Morning

I’d love to know all the birds by name, be able to identify them by their conversation, their song.

A cardinal intruded politely on a catch up session with friends yesterday. We were laughing and agreeing on our take on things when it happened.

It flew in front of us, a brilliant display. I announced, “a red bird”. They smiled, knowing my story and because they both know I’d never say “cardinal”, not the proper way.

I woke this morning not as I planned, 5:00 a.m and I had it all mapped out in my mind, finish what you started last night when both you and your printer stalled.

Instead, three times slapping at the 6:30 bell, I slumbered well.

Prepared my coffee grounds to discover my French press is not going press the way it’s supposed to again today.

I turn towards the birdsong remembering my mornings before, let the Lab out, notice the coming day.

I miss him, I miss those days.

Touching the morning, allowing it to touch me.

So, I stepped out to pay attention.

I noticed mist, a lacy veil above the moist green grass, the sky, a pale pink horizon and roses are early bloomers, startling red!

Back inside to correct the coffee, I leave the door open to listen, allowing the morning to come in.

Settled in my morning spot with little time to sit, I think and say it again.

Lord, order my day. Amen

The geese are on their way to the pond. I hear them.

Hear my mama, “Here they come!”

Begin again, start again. Rise and walk new ways.

God knows your hopes, mercy leads the way. Follow the sure pattern, soar with ease and sure direction.

Faith.

Continue and believe.

Funny, sort of.

She found the recipe.

“Grandma Bette’s Pound Cake” and I shared the preparations on Instagram, adding I’ve been sentimental of late.

Someone asked what that means. I said it’s just another way to say lately.

I said I love words and she said okay.

She is my daughter and she’s a better cook than me.

Better at a whole lot of things.

I don’t know what’s next for me.

I wrote today, bought art supplies and redecorated some rooms.

The cake is in the oven.

The sun is almost gone.

I worried earlier about how I’m gonna make it without my job.

Then realized I have days like today to figure it out.

Finally, perhaps live in a way that looks like “my happy way of life”.

Possibly.

Yes, possibly.

Wow.

How Much We Need

“ …there is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below.”

‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭8:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I would stand close by and wait, watch and contribute as I was told.

My mama, in her kitchen, I watched as she prepped the meat for the main meal to add a pound cake for later.

In the intervals of ingredients, she rarely gave a measure.

She’d answer with “that’s enough” or “a little more”.

Rarely did she let me add too much. She knew that wound spoil it all. The flour would be mixed with the sugar. It would be impossible to separate the two.

We would have to start over.

In all my years of helping bake cake, that was never the case.

The measure of the two ingredients was always enough to take the next step, to add in the eggs one at a time and the butter.

The cake came out right. Consistently moist with the sweet thick light brown crust.

This morning I made a list of three things I’d like to believe without interruption, three things that would never go away, be not enough.

“You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

  1. Self-control
  2. Belief in possibility
  3. Assurance of God’s love

Someone may be reading this and asking how is it that she doesn’t know these things?

I sat just now and countered each need with truth. Because see, in this world we live in the stuff that gets mixed in gets us mixed up.

Self-control is my decision. Every decision begins with a thought. God’s spirit will be my guide.

“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NLT

All things are possible. This truth is for me. It is God’s desire that I allow my heart, not my mind, to lead.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God’s love is immeasurable. It is unwavering.

“No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:39‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I told someone yesterday I’ve been dreaming about my mama. I told her I think it’s because my daughter’s about to have a baby. She smiled and added she thinks that’s so sweet. I told her she’d understand one day, for her I hope it’s not soon.

Longing is immeasurable. Memories are a beautiful thing. God made me to remember us in the kitchen and her famous pound cake.

And he led me to consider the comfort of having enough.

Not too much.

He led me as if my mama and He had been in intimate conversation and they both decided.

Look now, she’s about to give in. She’s about to be pitiful again. She’s about to let doubt ruin the batter, she’s leaning closely towards throwing out the good ingredients and deciding she might never bake a good cake, create a story or a painting again!

Can I tell you one thing for sure?

He knows. He knows our tendencies and stands close by saying, let’s don’t go that way again.

I’m rising now from my morning spot on a day I am calling “sick” and I will get busy with the good things God has started in me and then I’ll go and try my best to get the ingredients for my mama’s unwritten recipe.

I have a cake to bake!

Thank you Jesus and mama, for teaching me.

Continue and believe.

I’m afraid I never follow the five minute rule. Still, I appreciate the prompt, so I’m linking up with others prompted by the word “measure”.

Measure

Wounded and Believing

Thank you, Jesus

There’s a sliver of a wound on the inside of my index finger.

Rather than take the clear path only a few steps away I stepped towards the corner.

Took the risky way, the rebellious path.

Awaiting the New

The asparagus fern from last summer had been put away, covered in pine straw, protected.

From a distance, I saw vibrant green peeking through.

I am impatient for the new season.

So, I squeezed up next to the porch and gingerly pushed about the branches of not yet blooming roses.

Then left the fern, after all, it may be too early, we’ve not yet had the “Easter snap”.

I looked down and saw the stream of deep dark red and felt the sting of the injury from the thorn that caused me to be cornered.

I paused to dab my finger against my shirt, only temporarily stopping the flow.

I continued on my mission, needing to get my pansies into the dirt.

Rain was forecasted, I needed them ready and waiting for the pour down from heaven.

Beautiful Belief

The blood continued to flow from the place the thorn broke the skin, now all mottled with black soil.

It was the dirt after all that stopped the bleeding. Dirt crammed beneath my nails and clogging up the gash of my finger’s wound.

I thought of Jesus.

Thought of how so often I am hesitant to speak His name in public. Thought of expressions like

Less Lisa, More Jesus

Thought of the power of the sound of His name and how I keep it to myself as if the magnitude of His name might upset our rooms.

Sometimes I only hint at the reality of Jesus.

Deciding others will find out on their own.

As if accidentally maybe perhaps or hope so

Someone will just know that we know Him and maybe ask if it is so and hey, tell me why I should know the one you know…

(Sermon to self here. Please just know.)

I thought of the thorns they placed on His head in a sarcastic cynical crown.

I thought of how eventually his blood became mixed in with his sweat, the grime of his sacrifice, the mixture of it all.

Love and death.

For me.

For us all.

I thought last night about this love I am not required to earn.

Thought about Jesus fulfilling God’s purpose, Jesus obeying the Father, a sinless obedient Son.

I am thinking now of the miracle of me, the miracles I have seen, the ones I’ve yet to see.

The ones that I will never know.

That are yours! Not mine to see.

Way too many to comprehend.

Jesus let Thomas put his hand in the place where the spear cut open His side. Told him he was blessed because he believed.

Added how significant it is not to see and yet, believe.

The measures Jesus took and takes to get us to believe are simply too much to me!

Too much to fathom why sometimes I don’t believe.

And yet, like Thomas.

He is still there for me.

Still telling me,

Peace be with you. John 20:26  Believe.

The Book of John ends with a beautiful thought, the truth of the ever astounding and amazing love of Jesus.

“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

‭‭John‬ ‭21:25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I understand. Yesterday, I thought of all my journals, all my haphazard prayers, intentional supplications, and all the countless recoveries and redemptive interventions Jesus has brought to my life.

I believe in Jesus, not because I’m educated in this way.

I believe because of all He has shown me because of my believing.

Like Thomas and the others, I believe because he gave me chance after chance to see.

The little slice of the wound from the thorn is still open today. Soon, it will be closed over, no sting or tinged color of pale red. Soon, the insignificant wound will be healed.

I’m thankful for the sharp thorn, the red flow that lingered.

To be reminded of believing.

To be less attentive to my wounds and more open to you.

Linking up with Mary Geisen and others at Tell His Story:

The Walk to the Cross

Me Before

There was no inkling of me then.

At least not to anyone other than my Heavenly Father.

Who, if you believe in things like fearfully and wonderfully made and a purpose and plan.

God already knew of me before any other knowing was possible.

God knew I’d be different than most, that I’d love words and their expression and that sometimes others might not know what to make of me and so they might describe me jokingly.

It’s odd to be so quiet and at the same time feel so very different, so different that your difference doesn’t go unnoticed.

Sometimes you’re awkwardly called out.

The bane of your introversion.

Notice.

A very long time ago, this place where I walk, a trail encircling what is now a subdivision, was covered in beach, in sand.

I heard this in a historical account of my town, our community.

I walked this evening.

My steps had intent.

Outrun the mood before the mood takes you over, runs you down, knocks you off your feet.

I was tired. Had too much sugar and not enough sleep.

Walk it out, I told myself before the miserable mood walks all over you.

I had a good pace and then saw in the bramble and brush, a tiny little bloom, a blossom bursting through.

Solitary on the dead leaves, seemingly distant from branch or vine.

The bloom before the berries.

The promise before the fruit.

I continued on, self-talk declaring.

The rest of your life is yet to be seen.

Your bloom is just about to break through the cold decay of your ground.

The ground that bordered the sea before anyone other than God knew what beauty you are meant to see.

That same ground is just about to sprout bright bloom, the flowering, the growth,

the plan for good not bad.

Me before is

Not

Me now.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Change is Eventual

I’ve gotten as far as finishing my initial monthly newsletter. It is scheduled for this evening and Sundays the middle of every month to come.

“They” say that’s not the best day for sending. That’s the day that felt right for me anyway.

The initial one never went through.

Either it was confirmation of my deficient technical skills or was way “too much Lisa” not enough Him. I believe a combination of both.

I’m a work in progress. This blogging, writing thing is as much an enigma most days as me.

You’re an enigma wrapped in a riddle. my husband’s description of me

I have no idea where the form is supposed to be for followers to subscribe.

MailChimp almost got the best of me, still not a simple thing, at least not to me.

I will figure it out. Not now.

Eventually.

You Can Rest Now

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I had the most peaceful morning. I had slept so very well, the kind like a Saturday morning when it was just natural to sleep in.

Then I was easy on myself, I sipped coffee with the “grand-dog” near and eventually made myself breakfast, well, it was brunch.

It was to be a challenging day. I decided not to rush.

It felt like the right choice.

Interviews today, the call back for seconds, there would be three of them.

The first, a sharply dressed young woman.

I listened as she answered their questions, a panel of four, plus me.

She was articulate and graceful and I noticed the tremor in her voice, the sound that became less possible, the strain of nerves, a rush of something taking control.

I paid attention as she continued, answered tough questions about some things she didn’t really know.

She, a year older than my youngest child and she was an applicant for my job.

I watched as she continued, a question posed about management style, multi-tasking and de-escalations of conflict.

She answered without pause, said she’s a big believer in therapy and she had at one time thought it unimportant, her emotional self-care.

She talked about mental health, used the subject in a sentence about her church. Every area of her life, she had exposed to the light of the needs she knew, her own and others’.

Now she knows, she knows the value of taking care, of being alone.

The necessity of a sort of reset.

Had it been appropriate, I would have told her thank you, thank you for that.

Because you are brave.

Brave enough to know yourself and to continue the pattern you know that is right for you.

The thing that keeps you well, not just “fine” or pushing through.

This morning, I realized how desperately I was in need of rest.

It was so good, the way I slept.

Like I’d been out for a while and all the while someone so kind had been keeping their kind heart and eyes on me.

The word “recovery” came to mind and it seemed odd because I am well.

It was fitting though, this sense of this season representing recovery from exhausting patterns I’d become accustomed to.

I so greatly needed rest, I’d been unable to feel my own fatigue.

Until I began to see

you need it.

It’s an inward shift.

Today, I mentally applauded someone who admitted at one time anxiety made her weak and that now rest keeps her strong.

And so she listens to her mind, her body, her soul and she goes to the place that whispers.

Come away, get to the place you call rest.

You can rest now.

Peace is not found in a fainting towards the finish line pursuit, rather in the place you left it last to continue yet another exhausting other pursuit.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:1‬ ‭esv

Grief and Grace and Beautiful Things

The Sway of Grace

There was no inspiration in the sky above me, its color was thick and like taupe mixed with gray.

The color of old water left in the kitchen sink, murky from faded suds and dirty plates.

No music seemed to suit me. The podcast I was moved to hear again had strangely gone away.

I walked on with the bounce of a trendy and sort of tired old song.

Next one and the next the same.

They were not working, the songs that usually drive me, keep me distracted from the pain of my hips, my feet.

Songs about grace and Jesus too trendy for me today, too much like radio pop.

Volume down.

Twelve or thirteen minutes I told myself, just a brief bit, you can endure it.

So, I picked up my pace and I listened to my feet hitting the ground and I know it’s not possible but I could describe the sound of my own breath coming up from my core.

And I felt it, the way my body changed as my breathing weaved up and past my ribs and into my particularly patterned exhale.

Control, keep control. Focus on the release.

I kept on and got to the place with the dangerous curve and the steep right bending hill.

The geese had congregated on the water and were conversating loudly.

I slowed and felt the wind sweep across my face making me realize the warmth I’d created on my chest, caused by my own private version of running my race.

For about a minute, maybe seconds more, there was this bliss caused by God’s grace.

In a less than spectacular sky I couldn’t find Him and so, grace found me.

Again.

And I ran up the hill, all the way this time.

Although I’d decided I might not be able, I kept running.

Last week, I sort of analyzed my life using the big chunk of moments, days and years that were either sorted and stacked as either joy or fear, as either mistake or reconciliation.

My husband and I recalled the dog adopted and where he peed, pooped, what he destroyed, and how difficult he was in the beginning.

I asked him to compare the joy of the Labrador being with us to the initial hassle and adjustment.

He agreed he was worth it.

Worth it to sit in your spot at end of the day to have a big dog plop down and prop his big face across your feet.

Worth it to be greeted at the door with his goofy eyes and happy tail.

If you look closely at your life, all the happenings that you know were true trauma, the interruptions that you remember and think that was it, that’s what totally blew my chances of being complete, you might be justified in never believing you should believe.

You might not take chances with new things.

Perhaps, the trauma that began it all has never been fully grieved, a grievous grey sky that you haven’t faced fully, haven’t accepted for what it is and so you’ve not felt it, not allowed the grace to be greater than the fear.

In college, my first year, I was raped.

I blamed myself. I hid in shame.

The big and grotesque figure of an athlete loomed behind me the next day in Chemistry lab, elevated just over my shoulder, he was enormous and so powerful in his seat.

I blamed myself because my sweater was way too tight and glaringly hot pink. I know better now; but, only recently realized this thing that made me live so very long in fear and defeat.

It was unresolved grief for the artist in me that died there that night, accepted the disbelief of me.

But, even better than the realization that this trauma was not invited by me is the realization that this incident makes up really only an hour or two of me…of my whole 58 years!

I don’t minimize the damage, I’m just choosing to line it up beside the other things:

I was the middle child, shy girl who went to college on an art scholarship.

I drove myself through Atlanta all the way to the beautiful mountains of Rome.

I tried something new and I made a great friend who was beautiful and statuesque and intelligent who still remembers me.

I learned to love running there, running uphill every day.

We dined at a splendid restaurant where my friend worked on Friday nights, my choice always, Chicken cor don bleu.

I won an award for a painting and my parents came up to see my blue ribbon.

I began, just a little, to see Jesus differently and it challenged me.

I was brave there even though interrupted in this horrible way.

I was harmed in many ways by that night at a party; yet, that’s only a tiny bit of my experience, of my life.

The greater experience is that I was held even then and I am still held by the grace of my Father’s hand.

I was His child then. Didn’t believe it but that didn’t matter.

So, I choose looking back only to be certain of my worth from His perspective and of the importance in believing there is always so much better I have seen and been given, even when I line it up to the most unjustified of my griefs.

I pray if you’ve known trauma you’ll see the freedom of deciding daily that you are more at peace when your recall is one of the evidence of grace, not a harsh gauge of resentment over someone who harmed you and thus, kept you from all that might have been.

There’s truth in that sentiment. It just won’t take us anywhere, certainly no new places.

You’re so much more than the stain of your pain.

When the cool evening breeze brushed my face yesterday it was God saying to me, I saw you keep going.

I saw you turn your attention to me.

Continue and believe.

Don’t let the pain of your past cut short your beautiful race.

Luke recorded the healing of a woman bent by her pain for close to twenty years.

For me, my frame of reference for all my defeats or my failures has always been the harm done towards me by others, the hurtful choices made for me and the ones I made.

Disabled for far too long by my pain until I decided to welcome a change.

Like the woman Jesus was criticized for healing on the Sabbath, I am free.

“And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭13:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Leave grief behind, notice the unrelenting grace of your God.

This perspective of forward not former thinking is the direction God is guiding me towards memoir. If you know someone who has lived hampered by harm, share my words. I pray God increases each reader’s awareness and embrace of His grace as He is with me, moment by moment, daily.