The Calming

anxiety, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, love, memoir, patience, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Vulnerability, waiting, wonder, writing

The morning fooled me with its horizon.

Thick clouds bordered the pine tops like hills, like in the mountains.

Crescent moon to my left.

I remembered smiling, remembered the now distant idea, “Look at the moon, precious child. It’s called a crescent. It reminds me of your smile.”

The idea still near, I drive into Monday.

Radio boring, and podcast unnerving because of the cadence and tone in the guest’s voice.

Found a second episode and found the same. A conversation on attention and I couldn’t focus because of the speed of the exchange, the “chirpiness” in the voices.

Was the listening speed wrong in my app?

No, it’s me. I’m afraid I’m a bit particular about voices, quick to silence those that are pushy, perky or peppy.

Maybe it’s a southern thing.

Maybe simply timing.

“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
‭‭Esther‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Last week in the same number of days, I was told three times by a trio of different people, one a total stranger.

“You are calming.”

“Have you been on the radio? Your voice is so calming” and “Talking to you calms me.”

A friend, a former colleague who’s an executive and a young stranger.

This morning I noticed the coming day coming slowly as if the earth had decided to stay under the soft covers.

No sound now, music or podcast wisdom.

I enter Monday with full attention as I pause for the passing family of careful deer.

I feel the weight shifting as I turn, the road narrow with a picture perfect view.

I am quiet, quiet as Monday morning mostly sleeping.

I’m calm. I’m easy.

I’m hearing my voice again, patiently waiting my turn to use it.

“Prayer and patience…prayer and patience.” Aunt Boo

The Shepherd’s Way

bravery, confidence, courage, curiousity, Faith, hope, patience, Peace, Redemption, Stillness, Trust, waiting, wisdom, wonder

“7:00, not 6:30”, she reminded me on that particular night before morning.

The difference meant daylight, farm trucks and people headed in from the country.

Tops of the fields green with grass before becoming hay glistening like gold.

Cats creeping from their tentative sleeping place, homes lit by just one light.

The difference meant driving straight into the rising sun, so spectacular I refused to blind it with my visor.

And so, for a stretch of road I couldn’t bear to look away, only to creep ahead slowly by memory.

Day unfolding to not sure what, only that I had been sweetly awakened to life yet again.

To take hold and keep it, the difference in the day in the morning a little later.

And hoping to hold that awakened state of my soul a little longer.

7:00 not 6:30, sun not moon, seeing only what I can, not around the curve ahead.

Sometimes forgetting the way, lost in my own directions, returning like David or the questioning one, Thomas, to the way safely and surely forward.

The shepherd’s way.

“He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Father, help me to follow your lead.

The Broken Bowl

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, contentment, courage, Faith, freedom, happy, hope, memoir, Redemption, Stillness, testimony, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

Over several weeks, I sat at the desk in my art room and pieced together a broken bowl. It had fallen to the counter as I put dishes away at my daughter’s home, a loud crash and pieces and chunks of pretty white with raised polka dots was destroyed.

Instantly, I thought “Here’s your chance, try kintsugi.” (the ancient art of repairing broken pottery with gold)

I laid out the pieces, gathered gorilla glue and thick gold paint and began. It couldn’t be rushed.

It was a thing of patience and phases, requiring me to allow the repair of one section before beginning the next.

Covered in a cloth in case my daughter stopped by, I continued imperfectly because of missing pieces, adding blue from a broken intentionally cup for fill ins and well, just because it was pretty.

Finished, it became a gift to her for Valentine’s Day.

Last week, I heard words that were not new,

“We live in a broken world.”

The pastor added with emphasis in his message on “expectations” and I received the familiar phrase differently.

It was time.

Have you considered yourself broken by life? Maybe you do now. I began to think of other catchy phrases like “broken and beautiful or beautifully broken” and pondered how we can be both.

I sat in the sanctuary between my strong son-in-law and a very large, burly man who sang every word to every song and sighed like a little boy at the passages about God’s love, no condemnation anymore and other promises because of God’s spirit in us.

I thought, “I’m not broken, after all, all along it’s been this world and what it caused others to do to me.”

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Journaled on Monday:

This world is broken and so, things that happen or happened may determine you to be broken. But remember, you are whole, made whole fully and even more whole and unbroken as you allow yourself to understand the difference. You are not broken. The world still is; but no, you are not broken, not you. Not broken made beautiful as much as simply beautiful, redemptively beautiful, completely so.

To say I’m in need of my Heavenly Father, my Savior, His Spirit in me is not saying I’m broken, it’s more of a humble recognition of my identity now, in light of then.

God caused me to consider self-condemnation in my sleep last night. I’d been thinking of the practice of Lent and intentional changes. God had a better idea, told me what I really needed to let go of is self-condemnation.

The thought danced in my mind all night and I woke to consider it and journaled.

Self-condemnation turns me inward, causes me to fixate on my failures. Self-condemnation is not a healthy or even godly self-assessment. Instead, it’s an obsession with myself in a way that’s tricky, makes you think it’s a companion to humility.

Humility acknowledges with reverence the repaired places you were broken, made new, places you were unable and now have courageous abilities. Humility shines a soft light on the places you were weakened by wrong, but now are allowing yourself to grow strong.

Humility says “thank you”. Self-condemnation says you’ll always be “too far gone”.

Happy Place (detail)

I gifted the bowl and later sent my daughter a note I’d saved in “Notes”.

Kintsugi is the ancient art of fixing broken pottery with gold. … Kintsugi reminds us that something can break and yet still be beautiful, and that, once repaired, it is stronger at the broken places. This is an incredible metaphor for healing and recovery from adversity

Strange gifts from me don’t surprise my children and they know the unspoken truth of most of my gifts being gifts with a deeper meaning. No need for spoken explanations, just hope for little contributions to my legacy of love always.

And hope that I see this bowl, others who pass by or stand in her kitchen pause and maybe take a deep breath and rest assured.

We’re not broken anymore. We are beautiful and slightly imperfect, yet made new.

“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭107:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

About To Bloom

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, contentment, courage, curiousity, Faith, Holy Spirit, memoir, mercy, patience, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, testimony, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

Everything’s about to bloom except my orchid. But, I’ll not give up. The leaves are bright green cushions comforting the base of the stalks. The soil is laced with the thin fallen blooms of before. I know the morning is soon. The morning I turn towards the sun striped wall and I see the buds fat with flora.

Blooming

Prayer and patience, I think.

The tiny grocery store hyacinth I bought to think of my Grandmother will be transplanted to the front yard. Spring, not this, but the next, I’ll look out my morning window and see the green breaking soil. I’ll wait then for delicate dainty hyacinths to bless the space around my “Angel girl”.

I’ll remind myself. I will remember. I waited and it was good to be hopeful, to be patient prayerfully.

The Valentine’s Day bouquet is refilled with fresh water. A day lily amongst the pink and purple will soon open, soft tangerine.

I’ll wait, not like snapping my fingers for things. I’ll wait and keep watering what God has planted in me. This is my contribution.

I’ll look towards the orchid and I’ll see its dust colored branches stretching and curving towards the window. I’ll see it going after what it can’t live without. I’ll know what is needed for growth and I’ll keep watering, keep writing, painting, praying and I will rest quietly because quiet waiting is always best.

I’ll be willing to trust, simply planted and willing. I’ll remain rooted and I’ll not doubt the nourishment I’m given from My Father. I’ll allow it to change me from the roots to the branches to the sharing my story.

I’ll not doubt possible blooming. I know it will come and not just for me.

For others too, weakness made strong, broken made unbreakable, redeemed with a story worth sharing.

I pray it’s the same with you.

Continue and believe.

“For there is hope of a tree, If it be cut down, that it will sprout again, And that the tender branch thereof will not cease.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭14:7‬ ‭ASV‬‬

I’m linking up with others, prompted by the word “Stretch”. What an interesting prompt,

FMF link up.

The Desert Place

bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, hope, memoir, Redemption, Trust, waiting, writing

“Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
‭‭John‬ ‭11:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

She had been waiting four days.

She kept waiting. Jesus came. Her brother woke up.

Mornings Clarify

My faith has felt shallow lately in the vast place of waiting. I have zero sense of direction naturally. I depend on landmarks like trees and yellow doors on white houses and such.

I find my way by remembering. Crisis of faith is not an accurate assessment, more just a waiting in the unknown to remember.

I’m just waiting for a way forward, a clear answer, a settled decision whether to continue.

It’s not life or death. I’m seeking direction in where my writing life goes, set it on the shelf, write for personal pleasure and growth or to share with others.

I’m wondering why there are so many hoops to jump through and whether I’m up to all the jumping.

I wonder why to write a book I have to first be famous. I wonder why this type question feels taboo.

Overthinking it all? Maybe, likely to be honest.

Peace

I’m okay in the wilderness of desert waiting, just wonder how long I’ll need to linger to know.

How long uncertainty, a loss of intuition, of seeing, sensing, hearing God will evade me.

When Martha wondered what took Jesus so long to see about her brother, I imagine the waiting was heavy. I believe her senses were elevated. She listened for his arrival, she trusted her belief.

But, why didn’t he come sooner, after all Jesus loved her brother she thought.

Her sister, Mary sat at home. Martha set out to understand “why so long”.

I imagine me in the middle of not knowing, of counting on recollection to determine my direction. I’ll listen for a sense of flowing, I’ll walk towards the water rippling clearly, caressing amber stones. I’ll remember then.

This is the way to walk. I’ll remember, by faith that may not make sense to others

Sometimes to myself.

By faith, I walk.

By faith, I’ll find my footing and my steps will be certain then.

By faith, I wait.

Martha

Soon, my Savior will respond. I’ll see which way to go and understand whether the dream will die or be resurrected.

Continue and believe.

Yes, Lord; I believe…John 11:27

We wait for what we believe,

For what believes fully in us.

We find our footing, sense a certain direction and we breathe steady instead of shallow breaths.

We believe again in our hopes.

We wait as we trust.

Potted Daffodils

Art, bravery, courage, daughters, Faith, family, grace, grief, heaven, hope, memoir, painting, Peace, Redemption, rest, Stillness, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom

Wrapped in bright yellow foil scattered with pink and baby blue, the potted daffodils at Publix called my name.

I bought the pot of fully grown flowers and moved them into a terra cotta pot. The bird girl statue Elizabeth calls “our Angel girl” now holds a tray of potted pansies slowly wilting in one hand and the other, upward reaching daffodils on bright silky green.

They won’t last long, already full grown. What’s the use, I thought standing in the produce section staring longingly at the happy yellow flowers.

I thought of hope.

Thought of so much hope that’s in a state of deference, waiting for new life, waiting for evidence of our dreams being worth dreaming for again.

I thought of a song as I painted last week.

Like Springtime

An obscure songwriter not many will know, Chris Renzema, penned lyrics that keep dancing softly with me.

I first heard this song over a year ago. It just won’t let me go.

We will sing a new song
‘Cause death is dead and gone with the winter
We will sing a new song
Let “hallelujahs” flow like a river
We’re coming back to life
Reaching towards the light
Your love is like springtime.

Like Springtime

I walked yesterday, briefly and mostly for fresh air to cycle through my chest to move towards healing from a three day cough.

I saw the daffodils and had a new idea, hope and anticipation of Spring next year, of the daffodils the angel is holding today popping up like little joys encircling the statue.

Spring of 2023 will have me looking towards the little spot I treasure and I’ll watch and wait and laugh quietly when the flowers pop up in a cluster to say to me, see you hoped and waited and we came.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭13:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“We’re coming back to life
Reaching towards the light
Your love is like springtime

Come tend the soil
Come tend the soil of my soul
And like a garden
And like a garden I will grow
I will grow.”

Today marks the date of a phone call twelve years ago, my baby brother’s voice saying softly,

“She’s gone.” and the memory of my woeful sobbing, my head dropping heavy to my desk.

Mama, I’ve grown.

I’ll keep growing and hoping and looking heavenward. It’s hard to fathom, but impossible not to believe.

I’ll see you again. Like Springtime, it will be a beautiful day.

Until then, I’ll have a piece of coconut cake tomorrow and I’ll remember your truths.

“Lisa, never take backward steps, only move forward.” Bette (Elizabeth) Jean Peacock Hendrix 1939-2010

One or The Other

Abuse Survivor, Art, artist calendar, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, fear, grace, hope, memoir, mercy, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Stillness, surrender, traumatriggers, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

When I think of David, I think he seems to have lived a life marked by thinking one way or the other. He was either desperate or joyous, defeated by his own sins or bravely standing on God’s character and promises for him, for us too.

Honest, David was honest.

“In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭31:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What are the thoughts you think about yourself, your value, your image, your light meant to be shared with others?

Are the things people say of you consistent with the things you think and say of yourself?

“You will look to Him for gladness and refreshment when depressed, for moderation and recollection when in good spirits, and you will find that He will never leave you to want.” Francois De La Fenelon (1651-1715), Joy and Strength

Last night, I dreamt of drowning.

I heard myself catching my breath as I came up from the deep, a frantic exhale. I found my soft heavy blanket. I let it rest over my torso and I processed the possibility that I’ve been pulled downward again by the unanswered questions of my past, the agony of being unable to piece it all together peacefully.

I’m not able on my own I’m reminded.

“I’m not sleeping lately.” I told my husband. “Did I wake you?” “No.”, he answered.

“Good.” I added, thinking there’s no need to trouble him with the dream of drowning.

Instead, carry on with the new day.

As I fed the cat my eyes went to the calendar and the verse I found fitting for January.

The theme is courage.

I sat with coffee, lit my candle although it was morning and secretly asked God to come and find me again.

Turned to January 21st in my devotional. There again, the verse about courage.

“Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭31:24‬ ‭KJV‬‬

I recorded three thoughts and let them lead me to process my worry, my concern over who I am, who I was, who I’m becoming.

I’m not who people think I am. I’m fragile. I’m faltering. I doubt the promises of God quite often and I exhaust myself with worrying.

Then, God brought reply.

Same type replies he gave the ancient souls like David and Francois when they found themselves despairing.

You’re not who you were and perhaps rarely who people say you are, but you are fully known and loved.

I am who Jesus says I am.

Three self-reflective questions led to honest self-assessment and the possibility of a different perspective according to Jesus.

Could it be the deepest place of questions can answer the longings you feel are best kept to yourself?

“In mercy you have seen my troubles, and you have cared for me; even during this crisis in my soul I will be radiant with joy, filled with praise for your love and mercy. You have kept me from being conquered by my enemy; you broke open the way to bring me to freedom, into a beautiful, broad place.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭31:7-8‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Possibly, we’re all one or the other quite often. We sense ourselves falling into questions and despair. We stay there longer than we’d hope. We acknowledge our position.

We’re brave like David.

We ask for help.

Continue and believe.

Take courage, the ceaseless gracious hand of God, take courage.

By Faith and Waiting

Abuse Survivor, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, hope, memoir, Peace, Prayer, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

Like a teenage girl twirling the tiny ring of promise on her slender finger, we wait anxiously, hopefully, and faithfully.

We keep waiting.

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭94:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Between question and answer there is a void, a great abysmal place bordered by anxiety and affirmation.

The tension between doubt and deliverance is the required dwelling place for far longer than we would choose.

It’s our tolerance of the inner turmoil, of the unanswered plea and it is our posture that secretly and with subtlety, changes our course.

We wallow in the waiting or we wistfully wonder just how we will be changed, more wise, experiential difference makers in the telling of our waiting stories to others.

That’s what faith is for.

For changes in us that are best for us

And for others.

Necessary and best because God promises it to be so and His promises are kept even when it seems not so.

There can be joy.

We can choose it as our in the waiting posture.

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
‭‭Habakkuk‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Like a promise ring on the left hand of a teenage girl, we know our future is marked by a commitment of love that will grow.

The love of our Father through Jesus for us.

So, we sit with our notes, our bullet list prayers and gratitudes and we mark our places in the place of waiting.

Maybe we turn our left hand to rest in our lap and with ink mark our wrist with a delicate cross, underneath it we write, “Believe”.

We wait with hope.

And when hope is not met by what we hoped for, we still have faith.

Because of the unseen things to come, we have faith.

We journey on.

We wait willingly.

His mercies fail not. He gives more and more grace.

Continue and believe.

Tender Mercies

Advent, Christmas, contentment, courage, Faith, freedom, grace, hope, mercy, Peace, praise, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, surrender, Truth, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

Because of the tender mercy of our God…

Luke 1:78

I didn’t realize it at the time, but yesterday on a couple of occasions, I felt God seeing me. I felt Him near. The veil between earth and heaven was translucently thin.

In my car, with a list of places to deliver art and calendars, in between being among hurried and intent on shopping people, a playlist emerged. Songs I hadn’t heard before both caused me to pray and to praise. A deep connectedness to God’s spirit within me, led to warm tears and others to a lifted open hand.

No wonder, I’ve been resting with the words, “Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay.”

My favorite people in the Bible are the vulnerable and uncertain ones. I’m drawn to Job. I’m strengthened by David. I adore Martha and can relate to Jonah. Thomas, the one who needed proof and wasn’t afraid to admit it. I love the ones who wondered.

“Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
‭‭John‬ ‭20:29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Who believe and cling to times when their belief was solidified, made tangible evidence.

The Lord is near.

Believe. Accept the freedom of a sweeter commitment, the language of the heart, not rational.

Heavenly.

Lord, I believe.

I believe in your tender mercies.

In moments so tender,

So tender, a hand on mine, a strong hug.

Love so true, a touch of your hand in mine.

Still, Believe

Advent, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, grace, hope, kindness, mercy, Peace, Prayer, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

As Martha was met by Jesus, distraught over the death of her brother, she told Him she still believed in His goodness, in the purpose of Him.

Then, she went to get her sister Mary.

“She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.””
‭‭John‬ ‭11:27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Mary stood next to Jesus and asked why he waited so long. Jesus wept.

Then he told the sisters to take him to their brother although it had been four days.

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

Lazarus was raised. Jesus told them both and all who had followed out of grief and curiosity, that this was the way God intended it, so that all would believe, not just the sisters.

All, like all of us.

“So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.””
‭‭John‬ ‭11:41-42‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I woke up early, got my journal, books and pen and then felt the need, like a gentle call to read my (actual)Bible.

The Mary and Martha story is good. Always.

God’s timing is not ours.
Don’t give up hope.
Don’t stop believing in the grace, strength, mercy and presence of Jesus.
Look at your life, remember times you asked for help and help came. Times of desperation because of delay of some sort.

Sometimes I pray “God, show us your glory today, come through in a way that it’s clearly you…’cause I’m not able on my own.”

And Jesus has come, has remedied, relieved, given me strength when I am weak.

Believe in Jesus. Believe in his peace.

Happy Friday!