“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
Before the eggplant, there are tiny purple flowers and day by day you can watch to see the transformation. Sometimes I say to myself simply. “Something good is coming.” It’s not that I’m just that confident, it’s that I can look back on my life and see this pattern. I worry about not seeing and knowing the evidence of good and then I decide to let whatever it is alone and unexpectedness of good surprises me. (again)
I made a list of ten questions this morning. I’m made this way, need to know if, when, how, why. I got to number 10, got choked up over the honesty of “How can I know God really knows me?” Sat with my own vulnerability for a minute and then looked over my list. I let God give me the answers. They came naturally.
Moments like this are personal. Like a hydrangea turning from white to lavender to purple or an eggplant blossom falling from the stem once the vegetable is full grown.
Transformation is a quiet process. It’s inner work of our God who knows our inner workings.
Make your list of questions, things you’ve been waiting and wondering over along with your raw questions of God.
Sit with them. The veil between you and God will be gently pulled back and you’ll see His perspective on your longings and you’ll have peace even if you don’t yet have answers.
Maybe, like me, you’ll realize you already knew the answer, you just needed to be reminded. I can be pitiful. I can be stubborn and envious. That’s my nature, God gently reminds me I am seen, fully known and loved regardless.
Faithfulness to each moment keeps me whole and humble.
I woke with a worry that made no sense really, quickly setting the tone for what was fighting to be a heavy day.
I have been referring to these type things as “the enemy”, thoughts that fight to sway my faith the other way.
I’m becoming accustomed to the strange looks or pauses that seem to say, “Did she say enemy?
Is she really talking about Satan? Is she buying into the talk of the tactics of the evil one, the liar, the conniving thief of peace?”
It’s no different though than the responses of some when you begin to say “Jesus”, begin to call him your friend, begin to believe the truth of his gruesome sacrifice and live and breathe with the purpose of knowing this Savior intimately, personally,
The Son of God, the God who created me, created you.
“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalms 139:16 NLT
God sees you growing in wisdom and bravery. The enemy does too.
Yesterday evening, I walked the neighborhood trail, talk in my ear about a book, “Gentle and Lowly” by Dane Ortlund
I rounded the curve, alone on the trail, a distant dog barking and a teenager puttering with a putter in a backyard. I waved and continued.
The stretch of smooth bordering the wildflowers caused me to turn and look.
On the edge of the woods, standing in the overgrowth, I saw it staring.
I stood still.
A fox was fixated on me, staring me down. Its old eyes considering me, I looked back.
It never moved and I was captivated.
Not threatened, simply moved.
Its body seemed old and exhausted, the copper color of its coat mostly overtaken by grey.
It seemed intent on making a statement although its presence felt met by a resistance it didn’t quite understand.
As if it had no strength to harm me, only make me know it was still there.
Dane Ortlund describes a loving Jesus who longs for us to remember He is with us, for us, we can stop striving to be good enough.
We can stop condemning ourselves, anticipating punishment for our behaviors. We can rest.
We can calm down.
The worry that woke me went away as quickly as I raised my weary body from beside my bed.
I prayed and my prayers were heard by my advocate, the one who came and lifted my head to say today is another new day.
You will see.
I searched for the symbolism of the fox. Found words like sly and conniving and some that reframed those words to skilled and thoughtful, able to get itself out of dangerous places.
Jesus used the word when he referred to Herod who was trying to halt his mission.
“Jesus replied, “Go tell that fox that I will keep on casting out demons and healing people today and tomorrow; and the third day I will accomplish my purpose.” Luke 13:32 NLT
Words in red in my Bible, relevant still today.
Jesus saying to us.
Tell that fox you still have a purpose.
The strange waking worry found relief. I saw a photo of a painting, the one above. As it happens on occasion, I saw shapes that weren’t intentional. Today, I stare at the painting in peace. Brushstrokes and blending it seems led to angels hovering near, protection and peace.
All things come together, the fox, the special painting that came with angst in completing.
I’m ushered forward by the sunrise a few days a week. The road is often mine alone, I’m on schedule for my arrival and with low songs surrounding me, I notice the changing borders, green growth, fields becoming food and trees dotted with coral peaches.
I’ve been tracking an object since I first glimpsed it on Monday. Celebratory balloons, a star and two others, silvery white and deflating, drifted to rest in the high grassy border.
I wondered where it had been, how it ended up here, how long it may be before it’s flat in the ditch or whether the wind might miraculously lift it to cross the road and be found in a better place.
It stayed in the same place and by now it’s likely flat, deflated and hidden.
The happy gesture of someone for someone on their birthday drifted away and deflated.
Maybe there was laughter when the ribbon escaped the grip of a little hand. Maybe the one who tied them to a porch rail tied them too loosely and, oh no they got away.
I wondered about the faces turned towards heaven that smiled as the balloons met the sky and then left them.
Left to wonder what happens now.
I thought of what waiting feels like, waiting for God to take our prayers and hold them for a bit as we long for permission to go safely in another direction or we linger in that place we’ve been kept with no answer, no escape, no clear resolution.
Waiting, I thought feels like hope slowing deflating.
Or it feels like rest.
The choice is ours.
Each day I write “trust” in the spot above the date in my journal.
I hope it sets my tone, positions my soul to be satisfied although waiting. Waiting to see if my words sent to another might be shared, waiting to see if the works of my hands, brushed on paper and canvas might move someone to purchase and move to their home.
I move a new painting into my living room, I want to get a sense of the colors, whether they welcome or comfort. Are there places I missed? Does it tell me the story I hope it tells others.
Will someone see “The Promise” of an unclouded day in the same way the hymn came clearly as I decided the sky should be brilliant and cloudless?
Every picture tells a story.
Oh, they tell me of a home far beyond the skies Oh, they tell me of a home far away Oh, they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise Oh, they tell me of an unclouded day…(a hymn Willie Nelson sings, my mama’s favorite.)
Everything comes together, God brings all things together.
A verse comes to mind.
The soul at rest is peace.
Like an estate set aside for someone later, a trust to secure a child’s future, God must have things securely waiting for the right time in His sovereignty for me to hold them in my heart, see the reason for the waiting.
Trust is rest.
Like the birthday balloons trapped in the overgrowth and slowly deflating, I can choose the place I’m in as a place of settled trust.
I can wait for the next place God takes me.
I can see waiting as God knowing me.
I’ll take the country road again. I’ll glance with expectation towards the field to my right, the place with the resting balloons.
I’ll be expectant that I won’t see them, that they’ve been caught by the warm breeze of weekend and they’ve caught the attention of another.
Someone like me, feeling deflated by waiting and realizing there’s purpose in pausing and rest never means stopping.
To rest is to trust.
“Let the dawning day bring me revelation of your tender, unfailing love. Give me light for my path and teach me, for I trust in you.” Psalms 143:8 TPT
Early morning Tennessee rain has changed to an aura of grey as we move towards another state.
Yesterday’s drive was different, big city construction on roads and a sense oh how and when will the traffic ease.
But, we made it and were welcomed by the quaint little house in the city known for music.
We didn’t venture towards the fame. We had quesadillas seated under walls with screens of baseball games.
This morning the interstate is a soft ribbon through a border of trees leading us towards an arbor of even more.
I’ve just turned to notice horses in a field and a newly plowed place for seeds.
I told my son how I love how he loves good music.
Serenaded together, we are.
The Labrador door is sleeping well.
“We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!” Ephesians 2:10 TPT
Last night, we turned in early. Me earliest, allowing my son his own time. I paused a podcast at the place of it becoming annoying chatter. I closed my eyes and prayed myself to sleep as I heard the jet it seemed very close overhead.
I thought of flying. I thought of the comfort I felt and I slept.
Thinking I believe God’s promises. I believe the writers of the promises they saw come true too.
I believe God knew I’d be traveling across the country with my son and his dog and I believe He knew there’d be an Air BnB an exit away from the Nashville airport.
And that I wouldn’t hear the airplane until I’d finished praying.
The space was filled with exquisite ideas for design, paintings covered every wall. Artisan made coffee tables and rich leather chairs draped in soft throws over the arms. I arrived with art as a prospective newly represented artist and departed with my paintings and a tiny bit of hope.
Big hopes were thwarted.
A happy voice greeted me and then asked to hear “my artist” story and then I heard hers. She loves working with graphite, she told me, and practices in portraiture. Her iPad with the shattered screen was her gallery that day.
With every sketch or painting, she asked. “Do you see where this went wrong, do you see the error?”
Then she told me. One watercolor she’d entered into an exhibit was of elephants, a mother and baby.
I was drawn to the painting and she explained she’d given it to her mother. As she explained her technique, again telling me where she botched the color and had to fix it and then decided to let the mistake of the pale blue remain, I was captivated by the wrinkles.
I told her so, the detail in the trunks, the layering of pencil and color, the beautiful wrinkles were perfect, touchable.
Last week, I prepared for an interview. I arranged myself and my laptop in a corner and having curled my hair and found a blouse with bright color, I turned my phone to selfie mode to get a glimpse of how I’d be appearing on screen.
I’m horrible at selfies. Do you smile? Do you pretend you don’t know you’re taking your own photo? Do you look at the ceiling? What’s that angle that’s said to be becoming?
I stared at the several shots. I hurried to the closet to change from one blouse to others.
The neckline of the first one accentuated the crepes in the stretchy place on my neck. It was unavoidable and too late to be concerned, too evident to be remedied.
The wrinkles could not be erased.
I sat and prayed and there was peace in my expression, peace with the production manager, the interview and in my responses to kind and unexpected questions.
God was with me.
“You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb. I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord!” Psalms 139:13-14 TPT
I thought of the elephant artist, the way she discounted the work her hands created.
I wondered if God felt that way. If God sees and saw me despising my appearance, expressing self-hatred over my weight, my sparse eyelashes, the intricate texture on the place where my necklace rests.
The necklace that has a small gold cross, the one a tiny girl reaches for to say, “I love your necklace, Grandma,
I love your cross.”
The magnolia leaves my daughter uses for decor will soon be replaced.
The verdant green is drying to a darker tone. The underside is curling and the veins are more evident, magnolia leave wrinkles now.
But, still a regal sort of beauty, a strength as a table display.
I’ve returned to the practice of the “Pause” app after growing bored with it.
I was required to start over because of a new phone. The old phone charted my listening and I had listened over 700 minutes.
As of yesterday, I’m at 11.
I listened again and the words of the prayer are now resonating new and different.
“I was created for union with you.” The Pause app prayer
God, my creator longs to be united with me, with us.
United in thought, in decision, in praying and in listening, God waits so close he could reach out His hand to mine, possibly soothe the wrinkles that now cover my hands, the hands of an artist, a creative who gets carried away by color and ideas.
The complexity of me, He knows completely.
Says keep learning, keep learning and discovering you according to Me.
The beauty and value of wrinkles, a display of me in you and you with me.
Heavenly Father, thank you for mornings and quiet rediscovering of you. You are with me. You spare me from harm. You give me courage. You calm me when I notice and you strengthen me when I feel belittled or unable. You’re the lifter of my head and the lover of my soul. You give me songs to celebrate my growing. When I feel cornered, you join me in that dimly lit place, you tell me “I am here.”
The interview went well. There was talk of art and there was talk of God.
A song stayed with me that afternoon.
Oh! Christ be magnified Let His praise arise Christ be magnified in me Oh! Christ be magnified From the altar of my life Christ be magnified in me
I’ve removed the fifteen or more books from my nightstand.
Some of them read, some recommended, others opened and skimmed and set aside.
I’m hard on myself as a reader. I’m distracted and mostly too sleepy. They say a writer must be a reader.
Maybe that’s why I’m less afraid to paint.
To simplify. The nightstand now has one framed photo, a lamp, a pen with paper and a paperback collection of Psalms and Proverbs.
“How he satisfies the souls of thirsty ones and fills the hungry with all that is good!” Psalms 107:9 TPT
I’ve taken to the practice of reading at least one verse as soon as I’m settled in bed.
Some nights more. I thumb to the passage chosen by the date and the pages from notes compiled through the years are becoming my sedation, my self-help.
There are pencil scratches, black or blue ink faded to soft grey. There are bold underlines and tiny little star asterisks in places.
The summary of supplication, of suffering questions, or redirection of myself in an achingly sorrowful way.
Remorse, regret, confusion and occasionally a determined commitment to peace, the words warn, these are best kept secret.
Much like Job may have felt, I imagine if he sat with the pages that detailed his friends calling out his wrongs and his reply incessantly saying,
But, none of this makes sense. Why me?
I feel like Job was just that honest.
If you find your old journal or Bible, do you find your honesty to be hard or do you see it as simply honest?
Do you see how far you’ve come or are you hard on yourself that some days you still hurt to comprehend some things?
I fell asleep with a revelation the other night.
I’d read my prayers scrawled in the old book. Concerns so very intimate that only God and I knew and know the reasons.
I realized I had such a yearning for God back then.
I realized I still do.
The thought of my laments and longings documented with pencil or pen gave me a new idea, a different peace.
I was a seeker. I still am.
My soul ached with yearning.
It still is.
I decided it is a good thing to be still yearning, to not be satisfied in who I’ve become, to be certain God’s still what my heart yearns for and the goodness of His gifts to me, to my family, beauty made of so many hard things.
The words to a song you won’t hear on the radio seem to pop up on my Pandora quite often lately.
I drive the morning road, make it to the hill and curve on the dirt one and I slow my arrival because it happens!
The voice of Paul Beloche, so gently and assuredly reminding me of all the beauty God has made of my life already.
She gave a helpful list with one thing being to ask yourself at the end of the day,
“Where did I see God today?”
Naturally, I loved this, it’s might kind of deep thinker thing.
Tuesday was a “grandma day”. It was so sweet and easy and it was a gift the way the simplicity of the day fell into place.
We sat together in the cool castle building dirt spot. To pass the time ‘til Mama drove up, I taught the baby to sift sand from one hand to the other. Teaching maybe the wrong word, I just did it and she followed.
From one hand to the other we just passed the sand between our hands. She looked up, longer than usual, looked deeply into my eyes in a way that said, “This is sublime.”
Yes, this was when I saw God.
God with us.
Heaven met earth and situated itself with us in the Springtime dirt.
Yearning for me not to miss such a beautiful moment on a blue sky day.
And I didn’t and I pray I don’t from now on.
“Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” Hebrews 7:25 NLT
Lord, may our earthly days cause our longing for you more every day even as we yearn for the incomprehensible promise of heavenly days promised by you.
It’s become the norm for me to wake with a lyric or a verse. I know the song and it sets my tone. I open my Bible app and search for the verse if other thoughts don’t get me off course.
The promise of today is bright sunshine and the Labrador returns with the ball jammed into his cheek. I step outside and decide just a couple of tosses. It’s still too cold, early Friday morning.
He’s satisfied and so am I. I turn to go inside, my feet numb from the cold hard ground and I see the beauty of what seems to be an overnight changing to green.
I find myself wondering if God is aware. Of my waking on a Friday morning after sleeping hard from unacknowledged exhaustion.
Did God know I’d wake up with the words to a song by J.J. Heller, “You Already Know”? (Yes, I adore her.) Did God know I’d be standing barefoot and I’d listen to Him reminding me of the dangers of comparison?
Does God know how many blades of grass surround my feet? Is he aware of every rain drenched fallen camellia? I believe so.
“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:30-31 ESV
We are important to God. Courage and trust are the evidence of our embracing this as belief.
Hagar, a pregnant mistress in the Old Testament, used by others to fulfill a longing, felt abandoned, rejected, unnecessary. She longed to escape the bitter condemnation of Sarah. She fled into the wilderness.
God met her there. He pointed out the water she’d been thirsting for.
I wondered this morning if she’d been standing near the flow of water and couldn’t hear it or if she’d become so worried, afraid, confused and maybe angry over how her life’s direction had pointed towards self-destruction, that she couldn’t see the provision of God waiting there.
So, God pointed it out. She was changed by seeing that she’d been seen herself.
“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”” Genesis 16:13 ESV
In a few weeks, a children’s book illustrated and written by me will be available. I may have chances to share its backstory, a story I only recently realized but God already knew.
“Look At The Birds” is a book born of talks with my granddaughter about birds and talks between God and me about worry, worth and trust.
It’s a book with a mission of helping children understand their value is determined by Jesus and no one or no place else.
It’s a message God longed for me, the wife, the mother, grandmother, the author, the artist, to begin to finally embrace.
The moon is my favorite along with the color blue, the crescent curve and the hue called cobalt.
Crescent moon like a tilted uncertain smile, saying okay hang on, hang on.
And the cobalt like the ink from a broken pen, the thick fluid, jam from a jar.
I love the others, the sky, the teal, the baby; but, the strong cobalt calls me closer.
The half moon or the full in its brilliance are spectacular.
Still, I favor the crescent one.
Today, I watched a toddler persist. The country path that leads to her home had puddles of rain yet to dry up.
We walked towards one, I reminded her of her shoes, not her boots and she approached and then walked on.
One puddle, the largest of all and she paused.
She turned to find a pebble and then “plop” it went in the water and then she found a big brittle oak leaf.
Intent on tossing it into the puddle, she carefully skirted the edge of the muddy water.
But, the wind swept lightly across her little knees and then again and again, the brown leaf was swept up in the wrong direction.
I heard a little sound, like “umph” but, I saw her not frustrated, simply understanding.
Then she came from a new angle and she dropped the brown brittle leaf in the center of the puddle.
Then, we walked on, “ready set go”.
I’m wondering now if there’s a color of water that I love, a thick colored watery taupe.
An oak leaf resting as we walk back by,
The cobalt of the morning sky allowing a strip of coral in.
My day began this way.
I welcomed the beauty, flipped my phone towards the windshield and I sensed the tone for my day.
But, persist calmly. Consider what you value.
What you’ve decided decides your value.
Muddy water mid-morning then a cloudless blue sky against white spindly trees, I am reminded of the value I place on things decided by others.
The things I believe might mean my arrival. I remember now the persistence of a toddler when the wind was against her.
The wind picking up the leaf so lightly and the little hand that decided quietly,
Thoughts of an expression, “lightly child, lightly” reminding me to not try so hard that my trying becomes striving, obnoxious, an idol, not a quiet and important mission.
I am remembering the first time I read this thanks to a blogger friend, David Kanigan.
“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.” Aldous Huxley
A collision of faith, nature and wisdom plus the plucky persistence of a toddler.
What are you chasing? What have you not valued that is yours?
The writer of Ecclesiastes sounds much like Huxley to me.
Small matters matter.
More than chasing other, anything other than moon and sun and birds and mud puddles.
“I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 1:14 ESV
There’s an odd tree near my home. Its branches are grey and twisted and it half stands half reclines in an empty lot.
It is solitary with only tiny tender pines trying to begin their lives nearby, bright green fan like needles on the skinniest of branches.
I’m not an arborist. I know this tree is old, “gnarly” comes to mind. It has pods of some sort and pale white tiny blooms in the Spring. I’ve yet to see it produce a nut or fruit. It still has a few crinkly leaves furled and scattered.
It has lingered long.
Planted in the empty lot or the lot owned by someone and long neglected.
A decade or so ago I began to notice, this leaning tree keeps staying, fascinating me. It is steady although it has no real reason, not attended to by anyone other than God’s good rain and sun.
I’ve just gotten word from a gallery telling me thanks for your submission, our walls are full.
We have enough for display.
I downgraded from a website for my art to Etsy. The decision surprised me with the ease, and the peace, the still today peace is keeping me.
The desire to be an artist feels like an ache, a wound that keeps reminding you to take it slow, slow movements bring lasting health and renewed fervor.
This I know. The change is internal. I am being refined. I am growing. I know because this time, I have told this change, welcome, come on in, stay a bit.
A crazy thing happened on Sunday morning. I heard a sound above my head and thought, an animal in the attic…a big one. At last, I’d convince my husband and he’d believe me, those squirrels are living above our bed.
Later, I went to make the bed and discovered branches curled against my window. The pretty poplar tree had been uprooted by nature and leaned in a precarious way against our home.
Home alone, I walked out in rain boots and pajamas to see the bulbous root upturned and the trunk resting against a patio table. The discarded table saved our windows and our roof. The tree is now cut into pieces by our sweet son in law and only debris remaining.
I am wondering what caused it to fall.
Today, I read a passage in a devotional referencing a verse about being refined.
I will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. Zechariah 13:9
I thought of what it means to be refined, how I’d always equated being refined with having more polish, more finesse, what had been started becoming a final result that stood out from the rest. To be refined would feel as close to perfection as possible, a pleasing object to gaze upon, a showpiece worthy of applause.
I know the metaphor of life’s trials and traumas being a symbol of the fire of the silversmith, the heat melting the substance so that it shines smoothly.
I’m realizing it’s not about shining, the refining God wants us to understand and allow.
It’s an inside transformation, a change in our souls that leads to changes in mindsets and goals.
A change maybe we and God only know.
To be refined, all impurities are removed from a substance, it becomes internally pure.
A Canon named George Body, born in 1840 describes it this way,
“His loving eye is ever eagerly watching for the moment when the purifying work is done. Then, without a moment’s delay, He withdraws the fire, and the purified soul is removed from the furnace. See, again, it is when the image of Christ is reflected in us, so that He can see Himself in us as a mirror. Raise your eyes, then amidst the flames, and see the Face of Jesus watching you.” George Body
Stand like the old tree, stronger because of the nature of its own depth and fiber and because of the refining hand of God.
The strength is inner, the strength that was brave when it said call yourself an artist.
Keep it quiet. Keep it confident. Keep it grounded.