The purple blooming shrub my husband transplanted from his mama’s generous garden has graced the fence border, I believe, for three years.
Now the petals are faded and in the process of brittle decay. Positioned next to the Rose of Sharon with its pods all dried up and closed like little wrinkled up grocery bags, the back yard is changing.
The pool will be covered, the chairs put away. The place for evening sitting will be just a couple of chairs in the corner and from time to time, the metal fire pit I requested.
We will watch Winter come and we will wait.
I pray we will rest.
Rest assured that the tiny purple flowers will explode with renewed growth, the rose bush will go crazy with magenta again and the pool will be reopened after Easter.
I bought a yellow beach ball yesterday with a little face of a baby chick and wings on either side, $1.99.
I thought of next year.
Of laughter around May.
Prayer time this morning conjured up an expression used to make a point, to reassure, to stand firm in your opinion in an argument.
I left the words on the page, under my supplications.
The words that tell me come what may I have assurance.
Assurance of God knowing me and my family. Assurance of them knowing Him.
Rest assured. I can do that today. Mountains move, seas roar, tragic untimely deaths happen, confrontations heighten, animosity threatens.
Rest assured, though. God still calms seas, moves mountains, protects us as He is able against the enemy’s influence, fights for us
Fights for us gently in the call for us to know Him, to notice.
When you see God today, hear Him, you’ll know.
He’s still here and He is still mighty.
“Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty! Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O Lord, forevermore.” Psalm 93:4-5 ESV
You will find Him because He longs to be recalled, to be called upon, to be found again and again by you.
Receive grace, we need it. We’re going to need it. Regardless of November, hopelessness is a wound not even close to being healed, the result of our lack of control, uncertainty, the open-ended question of the coming year, the apathy towards each other, the numbing that’s happening to us to the extent we don’t yet know.
“That’s a lot, Lisa…I thought you were a person of faith?”
I know. Today I prayed beside my bed, no words, just a position.
Surrendering the moment.
…and by Him, everyone who believes is freed. Acts 13:39
Belief is a very personal thing, prayer is too. God, knowing each of us completely and individually knows us “down to the very bones” and yet, sees us worthy of the very grace we received when we accepted the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. We decided then I can’t fix this, in fact in my humanness I am unfixable.
Still, I work hard and with intention and a word we love, “perseverance” to see the measure of my faith be represented by works. It’s how we’re wired and we forget that physical wiring never is enough.
Praise, prayer and worship with music rein me back in closer. I find myself opening my hands to heaven when a song touches my tender wounds, thrilled to be uninterrupted on my knees beside my bed or joining others in prayer with both hands palm up to God.
Giving God the hopes, fears and thanks.
Today, I read “Receive His grace all day.” It struck me that the hands I open to give are rarely opened to receive from God. I forget that I need His grace all day long, every moment. More importantly, I forget that His grace is a reservoir that never runs dry. I forget that it is ours simply for asking, just by saying, I need you every hour. Again, I’m not able on my own and you know it God, still you wait patiently for me to remember.
We cannot put our hopes in this country. I’m sorry if that sounds unpatriotic. It hurts to know that and I worry that hopelessness is outpacing the destruction of the pandemic. Without hope, without God and His grace, none of us can sustain our own manufactured hope.
Open your hands as needed today. Receive grace.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 ESV
My daughter texted me to share that her daughter, 16 months old yesterday, had put her pants on by herself this morning.
I asked if she’d noticed other things like making her own decisions about inside or outside play with a sweet little “nope”.
I asked if she’d taken her to the bathroom with her and seen her tear a sheet of tissue as if to wipe. Yes, she had, my daughter answered but sweet little “ELB” wants nothing to do with the potty. I answered,
“She’s observing and strategizing.”
Last week I followed a flow chart created to help me understand the flow through the Book of Genesis. The kind of chart with lines dropping down interrupted by some action or moving forward through the process.
I began to imagine the route of a prayer, a prayer that cries out for resolution or a prayer that longs to be known by God.
Maybe the simple one that says thank you, another morning I am well or a more spontaneously overtaking one that comes from a song you join in the praise, you are so grateful to be connected with God.
I wondered about the delivery to the throne of God. Is Jesus able to one by one say, “Father, Lisa just had a moment, she’s afraid or Father, look now, she just got a glimpse of you and she’s better.”?
I wonder such things.
Why some prayers go unanswered.
Why some are answered when we’ve decided they weren’t heard. Why there must surely be some strategy in God’s timing that we are asked to trust.
To trust what we can’t see yet.
Last Sunday, the pastor talked about certainty and asked how long it had been since we remembered big ways in our lives that God showed up.
Remembered the answered prayers. I thought of a few.
My son was certain he would not pass the PT test at the military college his “knob” year. He’d been told sit-ups are a challenge for someone as tall as you, at least when they’re timed. A few people, the pastor who baptized him, his little boy Sunday school teacher and I prayed. God woke me up at 5 that morning, the test was scheduled soon after. I prayed. He passed and let me know in a text. He is now a Citadel and grad school graduate working for an accounting firm.
My daughter’s heart condition lingered several years, the place in her heart the surgeon called a little “stick of dynamite”was in a delicate place. Every procedure they simply couldn’t ablate it. Every procedure, we waited and prayed.
The final one, I was waiting with her sweet husband. The surgeon came out and as with each time before, he just couldn’t synchronize his instrument with the misfiring in her heart.
I nodded in acceptance as he told us he wasn’t giving up yet and then I walked away. I found the tiny chapel prayer space the size of a closet.
I cried and I prayed.
Shortly after, I sat with my son in law in acceptance and waiting. The surgeon returned and he told us so very explicitly the strategy he used and then he told us in words we could hold on to. He’d gone in to the location he knew from her records the malfunction occurred and he “schnockered” the area he told us.
He was optimistic.
A few years later, they are parents of a girl that wouldn’t have been advisable before. Her heart is well.
Other prayers have been unanswered and while they bring sorrow upon remembrance, I’ve accepted the response God chose was better based on His observation of the whole picture, the sovereign strategy I am not capable of understanding.
I just need to believe that my prayers are heard. I have some big ones these days.
I need to believe the incomprehensible truth that every single other person’s are heard in equal measure.
I need to believe because I have seen and I need to never doubt because of those things I did not see and won’t ever until eternity.
“Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:29-31 ESV
What are you wondering? What are you waiting for, wondering if you’ll ever get through or over it?
What are you waiting to experience, the wonder of a promise that comes true when you weren’t quite sure it would?
“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.” Psalm 62:1 ESV
The begonia in the pot was an afterthought, an extra in the little plastic container, now growing towards the sun.
I wonder why its blooms are fabulous, the others with the caladium have dried up.
I wonder why the women who found the empty tomb, who’d been so grief stricken were scared, uncertain, even seen as crazy.
Were met by skeptics.
Jesus had told them that after three days, you will understand even better the purpose of my violent crucifixion.
It seems as if the women and the disciples had forgotten.
I get that. I’m very much prone to forgetting the promise of good when I’m caught up in the malaise of my waiting.
Or when I don’t see any evidence of just around the bend arrival of it. I act as if pending will never end. I grow weary in waiting.
“…Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,” Luke 24:6 ESV
Then, like the women bent over by their waiting beside the tomb of Jesus, I’ll get a sense of God’s nearness akin to the angel who told the ladies…
Remember. Remember, God will.
God will bring good again.
What are you waiting for? Is it for grief to subside or to change its grip on your life and your soul?
Grief will change over time. It never goes away, it does change its emotion and the emotion it stirs in you.
What at first and for years and years is bitter, will become sweet.
Here’s why I say this.
A few nights ago, for the first time in decades since she’s been gone, I felt happiness over my memories of my mama.
A Netflix series, “A Chef’s Table”, the first episode, a story of a strong Texan named “Tootsie”.
I was enthralled. I felt I’d never heard a story so like my mama’s. I happily watched the whole show and later told my children, “If you want to watch something that will literally feel like being with your grandma, watch this show.”
I don’t know if they will. But, I will again.
So, here’s to the undeniable mystery of God. Was God aware there’d be a woman named Tootsie who would at last turn my grief to a sweeter thing when I watched a documentary?
I don’t know.
I’m simply accepting that God is good and makes good on His promises.
Promises we only have seen just a glimpse of here.
We are known.
We can wait well knowing, the sweetest days are coming.
We canwait in wonder rather than worry.
Because God said so.
Continue and believe.
What are you waiting for?
What, to begin or to end?
Wait in wonder, knowing God knows.
Wonderment, such a pretty word. I’m holding onto it.
Does your soul have a longing unnamed or one you’re afraid pales in comparison with bigger in proportion things of these days?
Is it so buffered you feel only the hint of needing its revealing or do you not fully know what calls for your attention?
Is there a secret you’d just as soon prefer keeping it mysterious, untended?
I thought of the way the tide pulled on my ankles, caused me to brace my feet, tighten my calves.
Of the way a weighted blanket felt the first time I tested it, strangely it gave me no comfort, its undeniable entrapment.
I thought of the struggle of heavy load carried on my back, telling myself stand up straight or like walking up a steep hill, leaning forward to make it and of remembering it’s better to let my legs do the work.
I longed to understand the unnamed source of burden, the vague melancholy on an ordinary and pretty pleasant Sunday.
I’d turned away from the few seconds of news, breakfast had been good, the worship music and message of the faithfulness of God was uplifting, exciting even!
A day filled with freely finishing paintings, three pieces sealed.
Yet, there was something I was keeping secret from myself, something longing to be revealed in a quiet conversation with God.
I prayed, hoping prayer would lead to nap. The quilt was cool, the whole house silent. Sundays are for resting, a day designed to nap.
Closing my eyes, it came, the invitation to surrender that secret longing, question, the wish for control I could no longer hold.
Then, peace not in a joyous way, just peace that invites the way to a settled soul.
The prayer I prayed, it will remain secret. The prayer you pray, that thing you don’t feel is suitable for sharing, ranting over or pleading for understanding, it can be secret for you, between you and God.
I wondered this morning if we’re all being forced to stuff down the sweet sorrows of our souls in light of the horrific strife and pain we’re inundated with.
I wonder if we all could use a silent place, a curling up to nap, a respite from the angry destruction we’re praying for God to heal and yet, sweeping under the rug our deepest hopes and fears.
A tender hearted prayer may be what you need. One that will surprise as the burden you’ve been carrying, the one that felt ominous and unnamed, will come to the surface for expressing and God will answer sweetly.
Sweetly, the well of just a few tears will puddle.
“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” Psalm 56:8 ESV
And you will feel better, begin to be relieved. Your tears, the evidence of clarity and the proof of your Father’s already knowing.
Last week, I watched “The Shack”, a movie based on the book. There’s a garden scene towards the end. Mac is helping to tend the garden along with the actor representing the Holy Spirit. A tiny bottle is emptied of what represents all of Mac’s tears and the garden rises up, flowering in color.
I read the book years ago, three people suggested the movie. I thought it might be “hokey”. I found it to be tenderly redemptive, like a sweet secret prayer, a long and safe hug.
What is the source of your mysterious heaviness, maybe concealed by the “in our ears” worry and fear inducing content?
Get quiet. Allow God to help it surface and then listen softly with private tears.
You’ll feel known. Better. Lighter.
What’s your secret wondering, your thing that compared to others seems a tiny trouble, so insignificant you don’t dare share it. God knows, he waits to help you be enlightened. He waits to surface alongside you the underneath things, the secret waiting to be found.
The one that begs surrender, to invite acceptance and meander towards peace.
I wonder how big is your bottle?
Continue and believe.
Linking up with other writers as we all move towards autumn with hope. We endured our Spring, our Summer. I have hope we can all move quietly into Fall as we welcome needed and long anticipated change.
I thought of the words to describe myself and two friends last week. I smiled to myself knowing I’d not find these three referenced in my Bible, just an idea maybe of them.
Spunk, Dainty and Floundering.
I thought of my friend who goes by “Mel”, of her unwavering devotion to those she loves. I thought of her allegiance to me, although unnecessary. I thought of her sorrow in the aftermath of the untimely death of her husband. I hoped for resilience to remain her strongest quality. I longed to hope she’d rely on the smallest bit of spunk she is known for.
Still, I knew the days ahead would unsteady her. I cried when I told her I couldn’t find the word spunk in my Bible. She listened to me struggling to articulate my lost for words rambling over her loss.
My friend, the merciful one. The one with “spunk”.
Another friend, as gentle as a dove joined me for lunch and we caught up. I shared the decision to publish the children’s book, the journey from looking at birds on walks with my granddaughter to deciding to say “yes” to the commitment for it to become a book.
She listened and faintly smiled, not with excitement, just acknowledging what she knew was significant. I noticed her hands as she listened, diminutive and folded. I thought oh my goodness, she is so dainty.
I wondered later if the word “dainty” could be found in my Bible. I looked and as expected, no mention.
My friend who has much in common with me, an artist, a quiet friend who is longing to see how far life will take her.
She asked me to guess what she’d taken a chance on doing. I gave no answer because she was giddy to tell me.
She told me she’d learned to paddleboard, no idea why, she just decided to try.
I imagine her balanced amongst the other lake people, her petite frame having lots of room on the board but I shook my head and asked, “How on earth did you do it? I guess you must have good balance or strong legs, I could never do it!”
I thought of how I’d always thought of her so dainty, so delicate, not physically strong, more emotionally fit…dainty.
She answered that it is not dependent on your strength or your being able to balance, it is about trusting the board, allowing your body to let the board be in control.
Trust more than skill.
Days ago, I watched my granddaughter pick up and put down her little pink shoe clad feet.
The land that surrounds her home is bordered by paths, some grassy, others a mixture of sand, roots, big rocks and pebbles.
We walk together. I allow her independence with reminders of “careful” or “hold my hand” when her excitement for living causes her to prance ahead and risk tripping on rocks or over her own precious feet.
I bring my hand down to meet her tiny fingers, “Hold grandma’s hand.” I say and she either latches on or with a big girl motion huffs and shoos me away.
I smile. I watch. Soon she turns towards me and finds my hand and then lifts up in a surrender to be carried by me for part of the way.
She is learning independence and accepting assistance, the play of the two.
We walk together. We scamper. We dance. We sing and we gather pretty things, no hurry. No pressure, a rhythm of acceptance, balancing independence and surrender.
Holding accomplishment in one hand and humility in the other.
“Floundering”, the word I assigned to how I’d been feeling, the third word not found in my Bible; yet, the perfect description for my confusion, my unsteady thoughts, my leaning one way and fearing falling or leaning too far the other and tripping over my impatience.
“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13 ESV
Floundering thoughts, death compromised spunk and resilience, and assumptions about the fragility in our feeble dainty frames.
Each of those telling me, steady yourself, your heart, your trust.
Were it not for the fabric mask over most of my face, my response would’ve worsened the incident.
I was browsing the big sale at the Target entrance. I heard a loud crash and a moan. I looked over to see the feet of an elderly woman in shoes like mine, except her shoes slippery with mud, had caused her to fall.
She laid there as the red shirt employees called for a certain code on their radio walkie talkie looking phone.
I turned the corner and looked away as the thin older woman insisted, “I am okay.”
Yet, she still sat on the floor near the entrance. I didn’t look her way. A crowd had gathered. Enough people were gawking sympathetically already.
I felt my knees weaken. I wanted so badly to cry. I felt the welling up and the ache in my chest. I suddenly needed to cry. I wasn’t sure I could change my heart’s mind. My eyes moistened at the thought of the lady on the floor.
I saw her walking then, carefully and with evidence of an ache, proof of fragility.
Earlier in the week, I’d thought of endurance, felt better about the current call to endure in that endurance is to be expected if one hopes to see more clearly, live more by faith.
“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
I accepted endurance as transformative. I felt optimistic about my enduring.
I pulled a book from the shelf from a long time ago.
“What God Can Do” by Deborah Mathis is a compilation of stories of people who gave up on God and themselves and then, faith and prayers …God came through.
The author begins with her personal story. I remembered it wrong. Her father, a cancer diagnosis, he lived longer twenty or so years longer than doctors thought possible.
The author as a child had prayed it to be so.
I put the book back on my shelf. The book I retrieved from my mama’s house after her death.
Shame, I felt shame for giving her the book when she was very ill. There’s a handwritten note on the first page. I can hardly think of it, a note to my living mama telling her my daughter has written down a Bible verse and put it on the fridge.
“Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” Luke 8:50 ESV
Then more. My friend is close by in a hospital with her husband. He has test results of a degenerative brain disease that means not hopeful.
One thought led to others. My daddy almost 20 years ago beat cancer but died because of a rare pneumonia type bacterial infection. My mama, trying to get well but unable to process all of the medicines, her pancreas failed, medication toxicity.
Yes, parents pass away. I know this. But, both way too soon and both of crazy rare turns of events.
No wonder I walked the aisles of Target thinking, “Soon, I will need to cry. I will need to allow the breaking of me because of my friend’s husband and for my parents.”
The heavy burden lingered, the longing to believe in the goodness of endurance, the hope that all things are eventually for good.
It lingered all day. I painted.
I completed a commission with the only insight, photos from the person’s home.
I looked towards the painting from yesterday. I’d been sitting at my desk. I made a new list, I read words from my Bible, I looked at the redemptive figure I’d painted on canvas. It reminded me of an abandoned woman in a wilderness of her very own making and of being seen and known.
The painting was named, “The God Who Sees”.
This evening, I accepted my own heaviness. I thought of how waiting brings clarity, brings redemption and peace.
I told myself waiting is necessary although it is not pleasant.
Waiting to feel less fragile.
Waiting to see God move.
It happened in an unexpected way, the way life circles back and weakens your knees again.
The buyer of the commission with a background of grey and blue asked if “God Who Sees” was still available. She has a sister who lost a son to suicide and she needs to know that God knows, God sees.
The feeling came. The evidence of God in everything. A stranger sees the “God Who Sees” just as I had seen.
She shares the loss of a nephew to suicide. I read her message. I stand still at the kitchen sink and I know I must give this painting away.
Me, now an artist, sort of writer although not so great blogger, a woman who counseled people who lost others to suicide, I have painted a painting which will now go to a mother who no longer has her son.
And so, I knew for sure, the painting will be gifted. The encounter via messaging that gave me cause to truly see endurance and gave me opportunity to think less of myself and give something, art to someone else.
And that was the tying the knot in this week’s regretfully melancholy and honest week, that was the evidence of good still to be done, the unveiling of the truth, even fragility is glorious.
Able to endure because of all we’ve endured with fragility already. Endurance is a peaceful settling for what happened unlike we had wished.
So, I walked this evening and came home to see my “Savannah girl” standing strong in the changing air, the feel of Fall, the season we have not yet seen.
And the decision to put others stories of faith away and to just believe in the faith stories of my own.
Endurance is what we do because we know God is good. Fragility is the reminder unexpected of the humanity of us, the stories we thought might end differently and didn’t, the people God puts right in front of us to remind us we are okay.
We fall, we falter.
But, we’re not defeated.
Like the woman who fell on her way to pick up prescriptions, not in reply to anyone’s question as they circled around her to respond in the proper way.
“I am okay.” she said to herself first and then to them and she then rose up from the floor, adjusted her purse, steadied her walk and continued toward the purpose she was there for.
Continue and believe.
Endure, even if you feel fragile.
Addendum: My Georgia friend, the one who lovesso well, the one I’ve assigned the color red, mercy, let me know this morning. She held her husband closely as died in her arms. Their’s was a great love, a crazy legacy leaving love.
“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT
A deer jumped from the field onto my path and I slowed. I expected another and then, yes, a young one skirted on wobbly legs all by itself into the woods.
I thought of the season, not being a hunter or having knowledge of why they were out walking so early, feeding I assumed, preparing for something, going some set aside place or looking for seclusion.
Later, instead of the regular “walk around the block” I saw an opening. A deeply wooded path, narrow with a valley and then a slight curve that made me curious about where it might lead.
I stepped in with the baby. Very quiet, very careful to watch my feet. We looked together up towards heaven in an enchanted gaze.
The brown ground was covered in seasoned oak leaves. I moved slowly with intention and walked unafraid.
Standing still to see a pair of cardinals and hear the rustling in the branches of others, I listened.
I thought. I am sixty-and a day years old today. It’s okay.
I saw God there and I felt him see me. Thinking towards the next things because of uncertainty of where the path may take me if I choose the more wooded way at the top of the hill.
I turned back, the peaceful way called my name. I chose to take the simple route, the one I had barely begun to know.
I turned and was greeted by the view of an opening like a garden entrance, a glow of gold and green that begged me to see.
You discovered a new way today, now step back into the old path forever changed by your seeing.
The settled way, the way without accomplishment, goal or agenda.
The trusting way, the way to allow God to show me instead of anxiety’s need of always knowing, forever second guessing and harboring remorse because they did and I didn’t.
Mary, the sister of Martha chose to be settled, to choose the better in a time women were expected to be fixers of things, holders of it all together, preparers of perfectly orchestrated outcome things.
Perhaps, I may be exaggerating here. Naturally, I didn’t live in the days of the sisters who had Jesus come to dinner.
But, I have lived in days of huge expectations and pressures and I am beginning to understand, allow, most of all believe in the better.
“There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42 NLT
To linger longer in the places God calls me, to slow down and believe he sees me.
Late in the afternoon, I watched from the windows. The trees that were far from me reminded me of a stormy ocean tide rolling on. The rhythm of their sway and the brushing up of the trees was a dance with the wind.
Synchronicity. I had said a quiet prayer, a pause and I opened my eyes and sat still.
I sat and rested my eyes on the horizon of dark cloudless sky, the gathering of trees.
Knowing it’s impossible to stay here for long, there are many things to do.
But, for a moment, and more moments later.
I can choose the new and the better, redemption this side of heaven.