All That’s Needed

Art, bravery, Children, contentment, courage, curiousity, daughters, Faith, family, grandchildren, hope, painting, Peace, sons, surrender, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I have everything I need. (Psalm 23)

I let my granddaughter run a distance ahead of me when we walk. There’s freedom in her feet, there is an overabundance of curious independence in her thoughts.

Taking care to watch her and yet, letting her be, letting her grow.

Letting her become full grown.

Watching her thrive.

My daughter has a plant called either “snake” or “mother in law’s tongue”. She asked my wise aunt, how to keep it alive.

My aunt quickly replied,

“Get up every day and tell it good morning and walk away.”

I suppose whatever it needs to thrive is somehow either inside its stiff leaves, woven together roots, or maybe it’s in the air around it. Maybe it is the home.

A parable in Ezekial, a rarely read book in my Bible was happened upon this morning. The clean page had a faint underlined place,

“Will it thrive?” Ezekiel 17:9

The parable was written to compare the ways of two leaders, a warning about the king of Babylon coming to Jerusalem and the importance of honoring The Lord’s covenant. History often confounds me. Still, the three words “will it thrive” caused me to sit with this passage.

A riddle to be understood, I sat with these several verses on this quiet Friday morning. I read and read again, God’s Spirit assuring me there’s a truth for you here.

Two vines planted from the branch and seed of a twig transported by an eagle.

One grew and spread near the abundant water and rich soil, it grew outward, freely, vines spreading and branches putting out new boughs.

The other wrapped its young roots around the eagle and became dependent upon it for water and its hope to become a noble vine.

Yet, when it needed to be transplanted, free to grow, the roots would be found weak, easy to be blown away, bent by the wind and eventually wither.

I think of my attention to things God has given me to contribute my part in their growth.

Naturally, I think of my children.

A daughter who’s a wife and mommy, a leader in vocation and learning, outspoken and deeply caring.

A son who is Colorado and lives near a park known for its majestic cedars. A son, who subtly agreed when I mentioned another mother saying “every child gets to write their own story”.

“That’s right.” he said.

Fully grown.

They are thriving and becoming even more fully grown.

It’s a wonder to me, because I surely often overwatered, fertilized with unsolicited advice and often looked on too closely to circumvent uprooting of what I felt meant thriving.

So, how does growth happen best?

Not getting too wrapped in the care and nourishment of our thriving, established long ago by our Father.

If growth is intended for us, it will grow when we let it be.

Because of God, my growth and I have all I need.

Like the healthy plant that never gets watered. Whatever is within it has it thriving. Letting it be seems to be the answer.

I journaled in the margin of the smooth thin paper what God hopes I’ll let linger.

Roots that are planted in good places of abundance and then left to spread on their own are more likely to thrive than the roots I cling tightly to, so tightly they wrap themselves around me stunting the intended growth of my calling, art, writing, my contributions to others.

Roots allowed to spread without being overnourished, overthought or overworked are the roots of long living, lasting evidence of hope.

Of love.

Yes, it will thrive.

Let it happen. Let it grow. Contribute as needed, as led by the Creator of you.

Hope will grow and thrive.

Continue and believe.

“He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:2-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Where You Are, With God

bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, heaven, hope, memoir, Peace, rest, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom

“To be with God, in whatever stage of being, under whatever conditions of existence, is to be in heaven.” Dora Greenwell, Joy and Strength Devotional

From the kitchen window view, I felt hopeful for Fall, considered leaving the back door open, optimistic that the breeze might join the morning sounds of peace.

Refreshing, it would be.

Not quite yet, but pretty was the thought, the heavens met my request and answered with the ushering in of new.

Hoping to catch a shot of a spider in its web, I found comfort in the powder blue sky fluffed with white.

Turned back for coffee and saw the rosebud ever persistent and perky.

Life continues.

God sweetly says so.

What if you decide the life you think you want is not the life your heart knows is for you?

What if the only voice you answer to is God and the Spirit of Him inside you?

What if contentment isn’t a fight to the finish, instead a quiet knowing you’re already farther than you thought you’d ever go?

What if you shift all your measuring tools from “I was” to “I am”

And gently, gently let yourself be you encountering the doors that open to who you are “becoming”.

All without outside interventions, offerings or comparison.

Even if according to others, becoming feels like unjustifiable, unfair or underserved waiting.

What if you realize you’ve really no idea what it is you’re waiting for?

“Believe…life will surprise you.” Brandon Heath

What if who you are is quiet and you’ve been way too noisy?

Even if you’re the only frustrated listener?

It’s loud, overbearing…the you that’s unsatisfied.

“But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Continue and believe.

Decide to be close to God, unchanged. Look up, remember where you are when you’re with God.

Stay if you can. Return often and linger longer.

“For just one day of intimacy with you is like a thousand days of joy rolled into one! I’d rather stand at the threshold in front of the Gate Beautiful, ready to go in and worship my God, than to live my life without you in the most beautiful palace of the wicked.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭84:10‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Your Eyes Will Tell

Children’s Books, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, Forgiveness, freedom, grace, hope, Peace, rest, Salvation, Stillness, Trust, waiting, wisdom, wonder
Mercy Every Moment

In the summer months, my husband questions my robe with pajamas.

I tell him I love it, I just like to wear it. I feel pulled together.

Before daylight, I’ve left home, left it hanging with soft pajamas on the hook.

Monday morning morning views are back. The sunrise to the right of me leads me on. I turn to see it developing, the new and glorious day.

The road towards small town has me meeting headlights and remembering a time the lights sparked caution.

Remembering today that’s better, the lights, the road, the earliness of day.

Everything an adjustment bringing acceptance.

This time last year I wrote a book I thought was for children.

It was God’s promise posed in a way of “maybe she’ll get it this way” kind of thing.

I matter to God.

You matter to God no matter what.

You’re seen, known and loved.

When I worked with women trying to decide whether to believe life was worth living and whether they could change life stealing patterns,

I’d say,

“Look in the mirror, look for more than a minute, you’ll be able to see how you’re doing.”

I’m not talking full length that helps you decide if you can walk on the beach without your shorts or whether the pants are too tight from behind, whether the dress fits good or is too matronly.

No, just the bathroom mirror.

Wash your face and gaze. Consider the condition of your soul through the look in your eyes.

You’ll see. You will know.

Look again, again and again.

Check yourself.

Are you wearing your righteousness? Are you dressed in the covenant of peace?

Your eyes will know and they will tell you so.

You’ll see restoration, you’ll be excited to keep seeing it.

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Become friends with the morning mirror. Carry on. Remember how yesterday was different.

Your faith more certain, your chasing misplaced trust became an acceptance of it.

A robe embraced you, rested on your shoulders and covered your questions,

The robe of righteousness, the blanket of salvation.

Continue and believe.

Be faithful in your belief.

Faithfulness is God’s character and that same character is in you.

“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Lost and Found And Seeing

Art, birds, confidence, contentment, Faith, grace, hope, mercy, Peace, rest, Stillness, surrender, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder


“In times like these you need a Savior
In times like these you need an anchor
Be very sure, be very sure…” In Times Like These

Saul was blind for three days after being confronted by Jesus over why he chose to be such a criminal, intent on being so vicious.

He was found and he saw life differently.

One lamb wanders away, the others stay in the pasture waiting as the shepherd, the master of their wellness and safety leaves them to find the wayward one. The parable is for us, the ones who were lost and still get lost sometimes.

We need our good shepherd. We’re prone to forget.

“Think of it this way: If a man owns a hundred sheep and one lamb wanders away and is lost, won’t he leave the ninety-nine grazing the hillside and thoroughly search for the one lost lamb? Now you should understand that it is never the desire of your heavenly Father that a single one of these little ones should be lost.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:12, 14‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I saw a man walking on Wednesday.

His dark hair combed back from his face, his jaw clean shaven. The sun came up over his shoulder, I hoped it was the one I’d been praying for, the man I’d seen the days before.

This man curled up under the overpass, then later on my route, walking cloaked in black jacket and too big pants, bent down towards the sidewalk along the highway, once I saw him leave the Waffle House, I prayed he’d been well fed.

Seeing him early in the day made me hopeful. I prayed God had made for him a new path.

I’ve been sketching lots of practice sketches for a commission, a bird cradled in a hand was the request. Instead, I keep sketching hands cupping a bird in a nest.

Think of this.

We know God cares for us by looking at the birds as evidence of that love.

Look at the nest built by a mama bird and you’ll see it’s even more elaborate than we can fathom. A bird nest, intricately woven together, little stems and pieces of whatever that the bird creates using a sort of circle pattern as if the cupped hand of God is keeping it safe until it can fly on its own.

I’m humbled and awed by this.

If God, the maker of heaven and earth has equipped a bird to do this, how could I ever question His love and intentional preparing of me, to do things for those around me and for Him?

“Consider the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they? So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life?”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:26-27‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Be very sure. He cares for you.

Like a mama bird with babies, like a kind and gentle shepherd who’d never abandon his lost lamb.

Like a Father who is wise, a friend who is kind. Like a stranger who stops what they’re doing to offer aid.

Be very sure, God cares for you and for lost, lonely or weary people you’ll never know.

Continue and believe.

Passion and Habit

bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, Forgiveness, freedom, grace, hope, mercy, Peace, Prayer, rest, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom

God keeps His promises.

I read or heard the other day, a warning, don’t let your “quiet time” just be an empty habit or a trendy phrase. I thought about my mornings, my most treasured time of all, of waking up early just to be quiet and alone with God. I’m needy in that regard. I’m needy in a lot of ways.

I need this “need thee every hour” commitment.

I returned to one verse that feels like proof of God really knowing the me I am lately. The Passion translation of the Psalms is tender, brave and honest. I grab ahold of the words, hold them close.

“You keep every promise you’ve ever made to me! Since your love for me is constant and endless, I ask you, Lord, to finish every good thing that you’ve begun in me!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭138:8‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I’ve long loved Psalm 139 and now I’m fixed on 138 too. Psalm 116 has a header “I’m saved.” I’ve been loving this too because most of all lately, I’m resting in the sweet reality of God’s love of me. Notice, I said “of” not for. God loves me, loves you.

“So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:38‬ ‭TPT‬‬

So, I’ll keep waking every morning God keeps me able. I’ll read. Not always everything and not always the same book or Bible. But, I’ll be quiet because I can’t make it on my own. I need to be reminded.

No one ever cared for me like Jesus. There’s no greater promise of unwavering love. To love others well, I need the reminder that I am loved. I need it every hour, every day,

every evening, every morning.

You are loved.

Continue and believe.

Understanding All the Things

Faith, grace, grief, hope, mercy, Peace, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom

Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all – Emily Dickinson

Recalling Mercy

I misplaced my mustard seed, the tiny glass enclosed actual seed that jingled on my wrist, a charm on my bracelet.

I’ve resigned myself not to find it again and decided, someone else may find it and it will be the thing they needed that day and days to come.

They would need the thing called faith.

They would need hope that demands little and remains like the song of a morning bird.

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭116:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I prayed for mercy yesterday, at least five times. I lost another thing, much more valuable and important, a necessity.

My morning was a panic, I searched in the most outrageous places, the last one was the refrigerator.

I cancelled one morning thing and then decided to carry on, to stop searching for my “dental appliance”, the most embarrassing thing, and do the other.

The other being get dressed, let it go, stop searching, do the important thing.

Take the coral colored roses on the kitchen counter to your friend who has lost her husband, choose what’s more important than your crazy searching.

I prayed again. I told the Lord, I don’t deserve to find this, I don’t deserve your mercy yet again.

Walked away to get myself together and you most likely know, I found my partial in the place I’d left it, on the bathroom counter, safe under a hand towel.

I left the roses on my friend’s front porch, not knowing if they’d be found before the rain.

Just knowing in whatever state or whenever they were discovered, they’d be what God intended,

A thing God told me to do.

Later, I thanked God for finding it and I thought two things.

One, why was I so convinced I’d never find an object in my very own home and more important, why was I so convinced that God would not, yet again, be merciful?

Things I understand more each day.

God is loving, the giver of hope not harm. God is the open arms of grace to the guilty and bent by shame.

God hears every prayer I pray.

God is good.

I’ll never be good enough based on my weaknesses, forgetfulness, haphazard or hurried behaviors.

I have a helper who hears when I call.

To say we’re not deserving is true.

To know that God made a way called mercy is the quiet answer to all our crazy prayers.

Continue and believe.

Let mercy in.

Linking up with others on the prompt “Deserve”.

Deserve

A Short Story I Suppose

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, daughters, Faith, family, fear, freedom, grace, heaven, hope, kindness, love, memoir, mercy, painting, Peace, Redemption, Stillness, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

Iris, Art, and Earl

“Blue Ribbon Girl”

   If she could go without a soul knowing, she knew where she’d run off to.  Down Highway 80 through Savannah, through the mossy oaked canopy, and over the bridge crossing grassy low tidewaters. She would find that old place, the place she felt known.  She would take what she needed, chill some water in the Frigidaire, and have crackers and peanut butter wrapped in her Kleenex, food for the road.  All would be well.  She’d venture down to the lonely October shore and sit on the sand; she would be on the beach. She would wash her feet in the frothy tide. She’d sleep soundly with the breeze, the little clapboard house by the shore, the place she longed for, left her art there, the place where her dreams began. The place where someone else now lives, strangely she decided they would just welcome her in.  She would wake with the autumn crispness and move towards the kitchen, avoiding the tiny room, space where she used to stay. She ached to be there again. She longed to have her fingers, arms. elbows covered in paint, to forgo the brush, blending colors in. She would consider painting again, maybe later. She might allow herself to be taken away, to be lost in the translation of her concerns to thickly layered colors. “Iris”, she might pencil in in the corner, always signing that way. Maybe this evening she thought when the light comes through the sheers just before the day gives way to night. She might settle in then, lose all track of time and heartache. Wouldn’t that be something? Everyone would talk! Iris has up and left Earl, she always had an independent streak!  She smiled, thinking of all the women at the factory, the gossip, the whispers.

     Instead, she drove back home, the little white house, tin-roofed and porch screened in. It was Friday, no telling what was waiting.  Her husband, a carpenter, fisherman, a rounder, and rascal would be waiting.  About thirty minutes away, longer if she could drive like she wanted, slow and smooth in her silvery-blue Impala, if she could she just keep right on going she would.  She’d like to take longer before easing up the hill and cruising, her foot off the gas and over the bridge that marked the creek. She flipped on the blinker, she had to get on home. The highway changed to sandy dirt; the first curve was the sharpest as she passed his cousin’s place. She cracked the window and let the other one down all the way, Remer’s wife would be peering through the parlor window, same time every day, making sure she had come back home. The one perched on the tractor slowing to see her, his baby brother was watching too, knowing he’d made it home from wandering now and waiting for his wife to get her “sorry self” back home. She smiled, satisfied in her last moments of alone. Creating pretty things, little flowery dresses, gingham checked and ruffled, her art, the products made by her hands. Only three days into October and she had made production.

     Her fingers were bent and achy, their tips flattened smooth. One hundred little Christmas dresses from four different patterns and each of them the same except their velvety hue; cobalt blue, rich red, emerald green, or ivory. Some with broad white collars and some with wide sashes for tying bows cinching perfectly around tiny waists. For ten hours a day and a Saturday, she had been taken away to a place that was hers, a place she could be proud of, a place close enough to feel free, free like the painting she used to do.

     She turned onto the path that led her back home.  He might be sitting out back on the steps or she might hurry in past the sight of his broad back in bib overalls, bent over the old table cleaning his fish. She wouldn’t ask him what he had done today, only go about her business, get herself out of her slacks and cotton blouse and into her housedress and slippers, he’d been waiting for his supper. She knew his expectations. She understood her role. 

     As she headed towards the kitchen she remembered, there was no rice for supper! Oh, Lord have mercy!  She had forgotten to cook that morning. Her husband had gone without, no rice for dinner and none waiting for his supper. She turned back towards the hallway and she saw it there, the old rice pot that was always sittin’ on the stove, it had been thrown up against the sitting room wall. Laying there with the sun coming through the picture window, shining like a flash of warning or a lost coin, either way, the rice was not ready, supper would not be on time.  There was nothing for her to do now. She would have to be prepared. Sooner or later he would barrel through the door, overalls half on and half off and the stub of sucked-on cigar loping sideways from his lip. She would know right away; she would detect the smell or not of Pabst Blue Ribbon.   She could only hope there wasn’t a deeper smell, the thick scent of warm bourbon or the belligerent tone of clear liquid, meaning there might be anger and she was surely too tired to take him on. Oh, how she wished her girls were there. But, long gone they were and with husbands of their own, one feisty and determined and the other followed not too far behind.   She hoped the other brother who lived beyond the cornfield might pass through. They would talk of the weather or the crops or the President, move to compare their sorry-ass women, and how their lives should have turned out differently.  But it was looking like a lone night, just the two of them and she had no idea when he might decide to come inside.

She turned to listen, as still as she could be, and decided he must be occupied with cleaning fish or digging bait or maybe brooding in a close to drunken state. She had time maybe, time to get the rice ready, time to pretend she had not forgotten before leaving for work, leaving her husband here. She reached for the Tupperware and opened its lid to scoop out the white grain into the soon-to-be boiling pot of water.

She startled when the screen door creaked. She stood still to measure his mood by the weight of his feet on the porch. She listened as he grew closer, seemed somehow more spring in his step. She’d grown accustomed to the heaviness of his stride, his feet like cinder blocks, the way they seemed so thick, pushing himself along in despair. Her heart was pounding. She listened. He stepped into the kitchen and ambled towards the sink and there he lingered. She felt his breathing on the back of her neck, she noticed the scent of his labor and decided today, maybe he had been working. She opened her mouth not sure what to say or which way she should begin. Before she could speak, he came even closer and then turned, his hand on her shoulder, the other one circling around her waist. He cradled her for a moment and then turned and walked away, left her standing there. Butterflies rose up in her belly and fluttered in dance at her throat.

     She was frozen in front of the stove; the sensation of his touch had overwhelmed her. She looked at the pot waiting for the boiling water and listened as he ran the bathtub water, longer than usual. What in the world, was he not worried anymore about the well running dry? She realized she had more time. She opened the icebox and pulled out a chicken and the beans. If she hurried, the Crisco would be ready about the time the rice simmered down and the leftover lima beans, she would season them with a fresh “strick o’ lean”.  She listened as she worked, his odd behavior allowed her more time. She thought of slipping past the tiny bathroom to the bedroom mirror to check her hair and her face, but she decided not to chance it, he would hear. She never knew really; she was careful not to wake her sleeping giant of a man. Something might set him off and he’d holler loud from the other side of the wall, probably then he’d let her have it, did she just expect him to go hungry again?

    Supper was nearly done ‘bout the time the sky changed from blue to dark and thundering grey. The wind was whipping the loose tin on the back shed and pine limbs were threatening to come through the windows, thick and green they pushed against the windows and then moved away just long enough for her to see where the storm was headed, how long it was staying, the hard rain, the threatening thunder the flash of angry lightning.  He’d be back in the kitchen any minute and he’d tell her he knew it all day, he knew a cloud was making up, he saw it coming. She waited and then continued. She floured the chicken and dropped it carefully in while the beans were warming and the rice was filling up the pot, the water making it thick and the way he liked it, thick and fluffed, not mushed together. The aroma filled the room, a later than normal supper. She was scrambling to move the cast iron from the heat for the gravy when he came around the corner. He walked towards the table, pulled his chair out, and told her, “You ain’t got to make no gravy.” 

    He surprised her when he said softly, “I was thinkin’ all day, I sure hope we get a good hard rain.” then asked her how her dressmaking went today. She answered that it was good, he nodded and then just looked away. He told her he had gone to town and that he talked with a man about helping a man with some carpentry.  Rumor had it that there were new houses coming in just out past the grocery store, that a Yankee from Carolina had bought up all the land and that somebody told them if you need a good carpenter, well, Earl is your man. He told her that he was sure the rich man had been warned, “You just have to catch him sober or not fishin’”. She listened as he continued, remembering her daddy and how she had been warned about his reputation, his family was good people, but the son was rowdy. He was a charmer she remembered, his swagger swept her away, upturned lip with an “I got you girl” smile, he reeled her in. They finished their supper and she rose to clean the dishes as he leaned back in his chair and told her, “You better get on to bed, they’ll be expecting you early again tomorrow.” She paused, “Good night.” she said, and then she barely heard him mumble in reply. She did not remind him she would not be working tomorrow.

The storm had passed, and the windows only open a tiny bit, she listened to the birds in an exchange, singing sweetly one to another, the crickets and the frogs down by the pond would soon join in. Tomorrow she decided, she would go to town, it was Saturday, she might see if he wanted to ride along. She drifted off to sleep, slept like a baby. She woke to the sound of coffee percolating and a strange sense of mystery, of newness, and of intrigue. Coffee and cream and the corn flakes and evaporated milk were placed on the table. No words were spoken between them, unfamiliar and awkward, this new way of them. Not his way to think of fixin’ breakfast.

“I think I’m going to town today.” she offered. He grunted. He had grown accustomed to her independence, gave up on changing or caging her in. She did what her preacher man daddy raised her to do, she was dependable and gave in to most everything, knew when to leave him alone, stay out of his way.  He let her veer off on occasion, it gave him his space. He didn’t know what she was up to, what was happening between them?  He said okay when she out of nowhere asked, “You want to ride to town with me?” then he instantly regretted his answer.  What in the world? That would mean changing his overalls, changing his plans, putting on clean boots, sitting closer to her than he had in years, all enclosed in her car and barely an arm’s length away from her body. He would be the passenger in her beloved Chevrolet. “You ready?’ she asked. He looked out the window and walked away, never gave an answer. She waited. She wondered.  She regretted asking. Then she heard the rusty creak of the old Nova’s door, the pumping of his foot on the gas to give it the boost it required, and the beat-up old chassis backed up and bolted through the field and down the roads, swerving she knew it,  barely keeping it between the ditches.

   She sat as morning changed around her. The corn flakes flat and floating, the coffee cold and the house was again silent. She thought of her life, how it could have been. She remembered the cousin who left Georgia and moved to California, became a designer, famous in a way she supposed. She rose to wipe the counters, poured the coffee out the back door, took the corn flakes down by the edge of the woods, scraped her bowl, left it all there.  She promptly returned to the bedroom, made her bed, knelt down, and prayed. She rose to gather the white blouse starched and waiting and navy slacks, flat shoes. She found her blue cameo pin.  She washed her face, took the bobby pins from her hair, added red lipstick then blotted it to fade to barely there. Dressed and ready, she grabbed her pocketbook and her keys, her little list, her memorandum and she slammed the door behind her. It was only 8:00 in the morning and she knew he would be down by the river; she had the whole day. 

   Iris slid into the seat of her car, glancing down through the field, corn on either side, the road that led to his family. She popped it in reverse and glided back before turning the other way. She had no idea where she was going, she just knew she was going away. She made it to town too early for lunch, barbeque had been the plan for the day. She decided on the café, found a booth, and sat to listen, watch, pay attention to others. A pattern of hers it has always been, comparison of her life to almost everyone everywhere, she was an observer. The waitress served her coffee, toast, and jelly as she lingered. She thought about the possibility, of her husband sitting across the table having a pleasant conversation. She remembered the night before, the glimmer of different, a slight change in him, for them. No idea what to do next, she paid her bill and left, walked out into a perfectly cloudless day, and then started her car to go on her way. Windows down and a scarf tied at her neck, she drove towards the beach and then turned back the other way. Unsure whether to be angry at herself for not going or satisfied that she chose the better thing, she remembered her memorandum and made her way to the McConnell’s Five and Dime. 

   Barely noon, she still had a lot of day. She opened the door, welcomed by a sharp clanging bell. “Well, hello Iris”, she heard someone say and she turned to see an old classmate; the one who left the country and made her way to the big city. She smiled, dreading the questions of how and what in the world have you been doing. She anticipated grand stories of her successful husband, her children, her grandchildren, her brick home, a garden with brilliant flowers, a display of pride, and better than.   Small talk of family and weather led to nosy interrogations she endured. Inquiries of her husband, of her daughters, of their home, and whether she had ever decided to pick back up on painting.

      She answered all of them, made excuses to hurry up her shopping, nice to see you again, say hello to your mama. She watched her walk away, listened as her heels clickety clacked down the aisle, and overheard her words to the cashier, condescension over an apparent mistake in her change. Iris stood for a moment and then decided on a change. She slowly pushed her buggy down one aisle and then the next, forgot about the Pine-Sol and the detergent, continued on her search until she found it, the small section with the thick ivory papers, the colors, and the brushes.  A box of crayons, she opened them and smiled over all the colors before closing tightly the lid and setting them down in her buggy. A large brush for backgrounds and a small for details, two or three more for blending and then tubes, oh so very many happy tubes of paint! She inventoried her list, best she could remember she had all she would need. She paid for her items and danced through the exit doors; going back home, not running away. 

   As fast as she could, she made her way back home, mapped out the afternoon, time allotted her for solitude. She thought of what she might do for a bite to eat, enough to get by until supper, she was excited, so very excited. Barely turning to notice the sister-in-law, the cousins, the brother in the field, she pulled in and unloaded quickly, laid her beautiful things out on the porch. She grabbed the peanut butter and the crackers, ice water, and a banana. Remembered the rice then and considered not cooking but decided it’ll only take a minute, might as well do this for him. It was expected and it required so very little of her, put the water in the pot, the rice does the boiling, cover it with a lid and just leave it there. It will be there for him, whenever and however he comes back in. It was such a little gesture, somehow, she saw it now, as a gift.

     All of that accomplished, she found a big old sheet, spread it out on the floor, and made a place for her paper. She found an old piece of wood, leaned it up against the screen, and with a rusty nail positioned her idea of an easel for her paper canvas. A jar filled with water and brushes soaking, she found an old broken dish and made herself a palette. Vibrant blue was her background and greens, red and purple followed. With no idea of how to begin, what to paint, she simply layered colors. She stood back and admired the symmetry, the way one color spilled over to another bordered by heavy tint turning to faint shade and shadow. She found the box and crayons and added flowing lines in length and layers, she decided they reminded her of gowns. So, she quickly added shoulders, gauzy sleeves over arms, and shapes of faces titled one way or another. She added ruddy cheeks and pale hollowed ones made barely noticeable bridges of noses and only just hints of blue, brown, or green where the women in flowing gowns eyes would be. She sighed, an audible “Ah!” escaped from her lips, and then she felt it, the smile, the filling up because of it of her cheeks. She gazed at the colors, the freedom of them, thick paper flamboyant and joyous colors, all types of stories. She rested then realized the time had escaped her. The dusk of the day was approaching. She gathered her jars and her brushes, stuffed crayons back in the box, and careful not to ruin the extras, gingerly picked up her papers, picked up the unpeeled banana, and nibbled a stale cracker. She scrubbed the brushes and laid them on a dishcloth to dry, turned on the pilot light, and then the burner, the rice, oh, Lord, the rice had to be ready! Hurriedly she finished, put everything away, and decided chicken from last night would be enough, would be okay. She walked out onto the back porch to see the coral sun setting and she breathed deeply, sat down in the place where he’d be pulling in, and rested her bare feet in the soft cool dirt-like sand. Her husband would be home eventually; but she wasn’t worried, not afraid. 

     She made a choice today when she could have chosen another way. She could have chosen rebellion, a trip to Tybee, and come what may. She surely did consider it. She could have chosen pity pouting in the discount aisle and she could have chosen to be a fighter for her freedom. Instead, she chose to gently open her own door.  Iris was daydreaming when she heard the familiar sound of him coming around the corner. She thought to get herself together, to hurry back in, stand waiting in the kitchen in a wifely way.  She stayed still, she waited. He pulled into the driveway and turned to look her way, puzzled for sure, he smiled, and then he shook his head. He walked over to see her and asked, “How was your day?” Before she could answer he told her he was sorry, that he knew she wanted him to go to town today. She smiled and asked about his day, about where he had been. He answered with a grin, told her he drove towards the river then came back to check the pond dam, decided to see the plot of land where the fancy houses would be, and ended up back at his brother’s, just sitting around mostly. She told him supper was about ready and that she had just wanted some air. She reached for her shoes, brushed the sand from her feet, and headed back in. He walked beside her, straight with no sign of stagger and he reached for her hand. She did not know what to make of it, she allowed it, she accepted him then.  As they stepped towards the porch, she saw the makeshift easel, she remembered the painting. He opened the door and held it for her, and he turned, and he saw it and said nary a word.  Supper was different because he kept on being different and when it was done, he pushed his plate to the table’s center and got up out of his chair. 

 She watched as he stepped towards the porch; listened as he stepped back towards her. He carried the piece of wood made into an easel and tenderly placed it with its still moist colors on the sill of the window that looked out towards the field. Then he shifted it left a little before saying, “That’s somethin’ else!  A real pretty paintin’ Iris, why don’t you make another one for here.” She stood up from the table and met him in the middle and she knew in her heart, everything would change from here, her independent streak not broken against her will, but gently set free and blended, the color returning to her story. 

A Children’s Book

Art, birds, Children, Children’s Books, Faith, grandchildren, Motherhood, Teaching, wisdom, wonder, writing

You are loved.

“Look at the Birds” is a book inspired by Matthew 6:26, a reminder for children and the people who love them.

You can purchase a copy by contacting me, in Aiken at 3 Monkeys, in Augusta at Sacred Heart Cultural Center or online at Amazon, Target, Walmart or Barnes and Noble.

I’d love to share this book as a part of your children’s ministry or VBS or summer reading programs by offering bulk purchases of the paperback.

Contact me at ltartandword@gmail.com for more info.

youareloved #lookatthebirdsbook #matthew626

Dedicated to Others and “Aunt Boo”

Angels, birds, bravery, Children, Children’s Books, confidence, contentment, Faith, family, grandchildren, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder, writing

The room, the little corner behind the sofa where she sews and sits was spiritual, the window towards the water, a warm aura.

The pauses between her words.

“Comfort” “Special” “This is special.”

“Oh, Lisa, these colors.”

I just listened, smiled, watched her hands turn the pages, fingers starting on the corner edges to move slowly down before turning.

I heard her soft sighs.

My aunt, the one known for the phrase “prayer and patience”, was moved by my book, “Look at the Birds”. It was a different response than I expected.

God with us in the room.

A study I’m doing on freedom prompted a thought last week, a question,

“Think back to a time when, because of a family member or friend, you felt seen and known…and truly loved.” In Touch Ministries, Freedom Guidebook.

I added my answer.

“Her hands on the pages felt as if she was caressing me. Her love for who I had become and seeing her being moved by what I was able to do, as if to say, I’ve been watching, praying, loving and now I see you becoming who I knew you were made to be.”

“Aunt Boo” the verbal and physical expression of God’s affirmation.

A children’s book written to help others know their value is just one of the many little things that is changing me.

I pray changing others.

2 year old Elizabeth does this thing now of let’s put all the babies and bunnies and blankets on the floor. “Lay down, Grandma, lay down.” and the fixing of covers and “babies” becomes a distraction from napping. She held “Look at the Birds” today. We didn’t read it. (No way, that might lead to napping). But, she turned the pages and still loves the hawk most of all.

Lots of people think I wrote this book for Elizabeth. It’s just not so. I’m happy she’ll know her grandma wrote a book. But, this book is for all children and babies. It’s my hope every little hand that holds it and listens to “you are worth more” will never ever forget that truth.

Yesterday, I got a message. A child in foster care carried this book to their new home. I pray it’s read often to him by someone. I don’t know this child. I know the special person who gave him a book.

I worry I’m not so good at this book marketing, spreading the message/promotion.

I promise, the knowing I had a part in helping a little boy in foster care believe he is loved.

It is enough, more than.

(The book is available in lots of places. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Walmart and my website, http://lisaannetindal.me )

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I hope my hope keeps growing.

I hope others see hope in me, my book, my words, my art.

May it not be about me.

Continue and believe.

Still There, Promises and Songs

Angels, Art, contentment, courage, curiousity, Faith, grief, hope, memoir, Peace, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing
morning balloons

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.

The Promise

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.

evening balloons

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

Continue and believe.