I sat alone in the silent house and prayed along with the new meditation on the “Pause” app, the guided prayer I’ve tapped in to about 600 minutes of based on the book I’m now in my second reading of, “Get Your Life Back” by John Eldredge
Two times I welcomed tears before my day had hardly begun. I felt better because of them.
The day was full. It was good and late last night I took mental inventory of it all, all of the promises fulfilled and the ones sure of fulfillment.
My granddaughter and I visited our County library, a first for her. We had the big open room with art on the wall and every other space books on shelves. We settled with a few and then she’d excitedly go for more.
An older lady came in, found a few for herself, smiled at the baby and said “Precious” and the baby lifted her little hand and said “Hey”.
Next on the agenda, a grocery pick up of needed diapers and the person who showed up at the window.
A daughter of a friend, I was happy to see her. She smiled when I told her just how powerful her voice is. I believe she only recently decided to sing. I was moved by her talent shared on social media.
Her mother had asked to purchase a 2021 calendar and then didn’t get back to me. So, I said “Hey, tell your mom to send me her address and she can just use PayPal to pay, I’ve marked them down, just $20 now.”
Then I changed my mind and told her to open the back of my car and just grab one, tell your mother it’s a gift.
She smiled and we headed to pick up our Chick Fil A, the baby still content, taking it all in.
All morning I’d been calling my friend’s pregnancy care center, no answer and I’d hoped to drop off a donation. Oh well.
With our lunch and after lunch plans, we headed for home; but, on the way saw the cars outside Life Choices and decided now they’re here.
In the parking lot, a gentleman turned from the door, confused I guess as to why they weren’t open. I lowered my passenger window and asked.
His eyes met mine, a similar blue with a little more sparkle. He introduced himself as a retired pastor and a friend of the Director and I smiled and said “Me too, I was hoping to drop off a donation.”
I asked if he had someone in his family who might like a calendar. Told him I had lots left over, I guess this year wasn’t the year for calendars and my donation is what I have left of them.
I didn’t tell him what I’d decided, the calendars hadn’t done very well because I was wrong, I wasn’t good enough.
He took a calendar for his adult daughter who had to move back home along with her baby as I explained to him the inspiration for the illustrations.
He offered to pay for it. I said no thanks and we talked a little more about art and the children’s book about to be available. I gave him the big stack of calendars and he assured me he’d deliver them.
His presence of peace for my granddaughter and I was evident as he offered and I accepted his offer to pray.
Last night, I settled down and recalled the day. A thought came, God’s presence was evident. I told myself, remember the times of today, these are the places you should be focused…making art, writing about Jesus, talking about it with others.
I thought of the calendars and how they weren’t successful. I remembered my angst over getting it wrong, the text on the back cover. I’d written a little note telling those who bought the calendar why I loved the passage about the alabaster vase. I referred to the woman who showered her affection on Jesus as immoral and later, for some reason, I decided you were wrong to say that, you’re not a biblical scholar and what if you assumed she was immoral, you just wanted her to be relatable, took liberties with her story to sell your calendar.
My thoughts went back to the God who is critical, not comforting, the one who points out wrong until you’re right enough for grace.
While the baby napped, I read the passage for the day, Luke 7.
The recording by Luke of the woman with the alabaster vase is here and I read from the Passion translation, a Bible I only recently purchased. The words are more vivid, descriptive, different.
Here I am on Wednesday after very good restful sleeping.
The amaryllis bulb I bought as a gift for myself is rich in color, leaning slightly towards the window and I wonder if I sat here all day, would I witness its bloom?
Instead, I’ll conquer a few things peacefully today without hurry. I’ll tackle the tasks that seemed made no difference anyway.
My Tuesday closed with “This Is Us”, the most beautiful depiction of God restoring broken hearts and long held hard sorrow I have ever seen. Tune in if you haven’t.
I’ll see again today and tomorrow the evidence of God’s goodness all over my life. I will not fear and I will not dread. I’ll not decide I’m not worth it.
I will continue and believe in the possibility of victorious days.
In a year that was “novel” in so many ways that robbed our peace, being at peace was my solution, at least my constant reset.
I didn’t and don’t watch the news, I stopped scrolling when something was being proclaimed about Jesus that contradicted what God’s word said. I avoided conflict and although I shared my opinions and beliefs at times, I ended up realizing people who disagreed would counter with comments that hurt.
At some point, I decided that people who disagreed and spoke up were just trying to maintain control. I mean, in a year that meant so little control, being ticked off and being outspoken was, I suppose the one thing many people could control.
But, in conversations with others, only just one or two, I kept going back to “being at peace, so that I can be peace for others.” And I learned this was something impossible on my own.
Today, the last day of 2020, God brought it all together. Peace is accepting your present knowing God is protecting you from being damaged emotionally by revisiting your past, saving you from stepping back into it, and trusting that He knows your tomorrow, that your future is providentially good, better than you could create without Him.
So, be at peace in your present. Look for evidence in nature, happenstance and the faces of those you love that say…Jesus is here.
“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 ESV
Thank you for encouraging me this year. Be certain of one thing, the things God tells me to share here quite often astound me! Also, feel like way “too much Lisa”.
Still, someone needs peace too, otherwise God wouldn’t give me words about it.
Happy New Years Eve, be at peace.
Continue and believe.
Think less of what you didn’t accomplish, follow through to completion and more on the things that surprised you as givers of peace picked for you.
I love a vignette! Here’s the third word in the trio of “yearly words”
Makes sense although it feels mostly only like “I hope so.”
Tying up the words, “hopeful2019” and “endurance2020” with a stronger faith, one I’m cooperating with towards “victorious2021”
“We will enhance your beauty, encircling you with our golden reins of love. You will be marked with our redeeming grace.” Song of Songs 1:11 TPT
I returned to a book in the Bible yesterday, read all eight chapters of the odd one, the complex one I avoided, the one that confused and confuses, the one that felt oddly sexual and therefore, made me feel dirty, caused me to withdraw, decide it didn’t belong.
The timing of the reading was brought on by something unintentional. I’d been scurrying around, doing busy Christmas things, avoiding the onslaught of bad news and stuffing down my frustration over Christmas not being the way it should.
For no real reason I began to wonder how many of us really believe God loves us, not in an occasional way when a song makes it seem so or in the touch of a loved one, the smile of a baby, the surprise of a special gift?
My sister in law gave me a present wrapped in thick paper sprinkled with holly berries. We weren’t supposed to exchange I told her, just the crazy “white elephant” thing, that was the plan.
I looked across the room at her, the distance of the living room rug and she said,
“Your mama told me to get you that.” And our eyes met, both puddled and the room went silent.
Inside a box, a cream colored canister adorned with a “red bird”, a cardinal.
She added, “because of your book.”
Two days later, I’m recalling my waking thoughts. I wondered how often my thoughts of God’s thoughts lean more towards correction, self-loathing, self-condemnation and whether I believe the ugly of me more often than His love.
Whether I believe God thinks these ways of me too.
I wondered again how many of us really believe we are loved, are longed for by God.
“It is you I long for, with no veil between us!” Song of Songs 1:7 TPT
In comparing the two, how much of our thoughts are devoted to measuring up, second guessing our pasts, taking inventory of our wrongs or not yet good enoughs?
What amount of our time and thought is devoted to being embraced by God, truly believing you are loved?
That God is love.
That love fully believed will bring peace, will model, actually exude peace and strength.
The cardinal canister is on my kitchen counter with a little ceramic sparrow resting on top, resembling a knob, a daughter memory.
I’ve decided it will be a vessel for answered prayers and things God causes me to see, I’ll scribble onto strips of paper, leave them there forever as love’s legacy.
Because I didn’t think of it on Saturday, today I’m certain.
My mama knows about the book I’ve written, about to be published, called “Look at The Birds”. It is she who always told me “don’t stress”, not to worry.
Her hands and God’s made me brave, made it possible.
On Saturday, the family who travelled a couple of hours, the ones who felt safe in coming and were able, headed back home.
Me too, traveling the road from my daughter’s and buffeted by the most glorious pink aura.
No one around, country roads empty, I took my time to see clearly, God had been with us and He will continue to be.
He loves us so.
I believe and my believing will lead to peace and strength.
Now, I turn to the words of the Song of Songs, a poetic book of the Bible, an allegory written by Solomon.
“This divine parable penned by Solomon also describes the journey that every longing lover of Jesus will find as his or her very own.” Introduction, Song of Songs, Passion translation.
I find the place I read last week, the words that didn’t make me question, didn’t cause me to shut the book, confused over the passionate tone.
I’m instead, more certain of God’s extravagant love. A tear forms in my eye as I understand love.
My season is coming.
“The one I love calls to me: Arise, my dearest. Hurry, my darling. Come away with me! I have come as you have asked to draw you to my heart and lead you out. For now is the time, my beautiful one. The season has changed, the bondage of your barren winter has ended, and the season of hiding is over and gone. The rains have soaked the earth” Song of Songs 2:10-11 TPT
I’m certain God is intentional. On Monday, I believed this. My body tight and my soul sullen, I bundled up to walk.
My pace is swift I’ve been told. There’s motion in my movement, I swing my arms. I reckon there’s a rhythm in my ample hips. I walk on. It has its benefits.
I exited the trail onto the last cul de sac. The yellow leaves fluttering from the trees, adding to crunchy cushion under my feet. I turned the curve and a leaf affixed itself to my sleeve. I smiled and walked on.
“I’m with you.” I was certain of the message, the brilliant interruption. Around the bend and back uphill, the brittle yellow leaf lingered despite my pace. It wanted to be seen, it wanted my acceptance of its message.
“God is everywhere. Don’t forget to notice.” me
It’d been months since I jotted that sentiment, a long stretch of days just walking to let go worry and angst. God said “See me, I see you.”
“You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
Yesterday, I walked again. Accompanied by my daughter and her daughter, the baby in her wagon all dressed in pink and her mama matching, her cap was pink.
We talked about Christmas, talked about random things.
Then my daughter looked at her child and shared a little story.
Sitting outside or walking I can’t recall, my daughter said a giant yellow leaf cascaded down from a tree and in front of the baby’s face before resting at her feet.
My daughter said she told her, “Look at that beautiful leaf, Elizabeth, just for us from God”.
And then together they gave thanks, the baby and her mama said,
Thank you, God.
I imagined her sweet little toddler tone. I remembered my yellow leaf of Monday. I knew then, why I didn’t settle down and write about it and then yesterday I knew again.
Now I know. Now I know.
You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past.
With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me.” Psalms 139:2-5 TPT
On this evening before Christmas, I pray your pace is slowed enough to notice.
To notice your path even though exhausted or uncertain is fully known and most of all, I hope God sees you, you see God and that you hear Him comforting you with the sweetest tone of all, the words,
“The pace of peace is easy, it’s slow, it’s me with you as you go. Come back, daughter. Walk with me.”
Merry Christmas friends!
Peace is a promise God keeps. Remember this with me.
All sorts of people and places are all conniving it seems in a way to keep me pressing on.
Unbeknownst to most, they are cooperating with God.
Yesterday, I turned my phone towards the window and captured this candy color view, the dashboard angle now making me think an angel must’ve been my passenger.
I parked my car, turned to one side to see the same orange horizon laced with branches and turned to see the brilliant circle of moon shining.
“I’m bordered, one side sun and the other moon. I’m secure.”
Some point I stopped waking up with one palm raised and the prayer, “Woke up well, thank you God”
I’m afraid I must’ve grown tired of the affirmation.
Or it’s just shifted.
In my journal instead I scribbled.
I’m still here.
God is still with me.
Then opened the Passion translation of Psalm 136 and I John, the Book.
Scripture of the day now also messages from God just for me.
“Give thanks to the Lord over all lords! His tender love for us continues on forever! Give thanks to the only miracle working God! His tender love for us continues on forever! Give thanks to the Creator who made the heavens with wisdom! His tender love for us continues on forever!
Praise the one who created every heavenly light! His tender love for us continues on forever! He set the sun in the sky to rule over day! His tender love for us continues on forever! Praise him who set in place the moon and stars to rule over the night! His tender love for us continues on forever!” Psalms 136:3-5, 7-9 TPT
Then, the tone of continuing continued. A post on FB from a wise man:
“The greatest regret for a child of God will come from finding out that Jesus had to use someone else to do what He told you to do.” Cleve Walker
“Wow.”, my comment.
I sit in the warmth of Wednesday morning. The light landing the way I love it and I wonder if others agree, I love my home so much more at Christmas, I love the peace of the sparkle and soft light. I love the glimmer of blue against gold all mingled with evergreen. I could gaze there all day, accept this gift of peace.
“Woke up well, thank you.”
I’m still here, God is with me. I have things to do.
“O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness.” 2 Samuel 22:29 NLT
Early mornings, I travel towards the unveiling of day. On cloudless days the color is thick as I turn from the main road to the more obscure. When I arrive and allow my car to rest on the hill, I gather all my “grandma day” things and pause with the view.
I have so many pictures of this place. On Wednesday, I decided there was no need for another, like most everything now, different day, same thing, I am apathetic over the view.
I looked away, no longer fascinated by the morning, the warm orange and one dot of star up above.
The sunrise held no promise that day, not for me.
Later, I opened the mailbox and was surprised by the gift of a book I’d not ordered but had been helping to launch, “The Advent Narrative” by Mary Geisen
I opened it and thought, the place my eyes land will be the light I need, the lifting of this heavy fog, lingering dull headache that refused to let up. Earlier, I talked to someone who is depressed, recovered from COVID but still very compromised by these days, lingering is his malaise.
I told him, “All I can offer you is to rely on your faith, have faith.”
As I spoke those words, I heard my own tone, a tone of uncertain belief in faith as the answer when the wait for God’s reply has been too long.
I held Mary’s book in my lap, imagining hours and days of compiling her thoughts into words, interspersing scripture as reference and deciding to present the book as a play with three acts, three scenes in each. How unique, how intentional to write this way I thought, pulling the reader in, promising us that if we trust the process, “wait for it”, the story will make sense.
“For it is in the middle, the not yet, the in between, that God does some of His greatest work.” Mary Geisen
The wait is lingering longer than any of us expected, the wait for relief from worry over family and frustration over unresolved conflict and division.
I had grown quite weary. Bored, even of the sameness and stupor caused by this pandemic. I just wanted it all to be over and I told God so.
He answered slowly, an unveiling in quiet ways. A conversation via text led to my summing up my feelings in a way that finally felt honest, helpful.
Because ever since I’d told my brother to have more faith, I’d been wondering exactly where mine had gone and just how small it had become, had become nothing more than a vacant word.
My cousin and I were in agreement, we both longed for our dead mamas’ comfort food. We wished for the impossible to be, we longed for what we remembered to represent goodness to be good for us again.
I remembered when my faith felt that way, like the sweet embrace of a kind adult telling me everything would be okay, the hand of my grandmother against my cheek with no words just assurance. I knew then, in this time of waiting for better, my faith is growing.
That must be why it felt so tiny, my recognition of it expanding to take me to bigger things. When I told my cousin I wanted the comfort of my mama too, it led to clarity, the pain I was feeling ached from growing.
“I know. These are very hard almost nonsensical days. I’m not a prophet or anything but I do believe God is requiring of us a new kind of faith, a faith that doesn’t expect any evidence of its worth at all…I’m beginning to see just how shallow my well is…maybe I’m all pretty words and no substance.”
And the day improved from there. Errands needed to be fulfilled and the mask requirement was still in place. The line stretched long at the post office as I stood in my tape marked place. I looked at the other masked faces wishing I knew their feelings. Were they angry, afraid, cocky over their fancy masked protection?
The eyes are not telling stories in the way they used to. Have you noticed?
The crescendo is building, the day we hope for by faith. My faith is growing. I know this for sure. No wonder it felt so little, I needed to allow it to grow. I am seeing myself more clearly.
I waited and I said Psalm 23 to myself over and over, the passage that quells my chest tightness, contains the promise I know is God’s. My favorite clerk called out “Next!” and his eyes greeted mine as I asked if he was doing okay. He was tired, he said and I thought to myself as he coughed, turning away, I really hope he will be okay, hope relief comes soon, relief of the tiredness of these days.
“Peeling layers of life back to reveal our innermost being is demanding work. The harder we push away from what is good, noble, pure, and lovely (Philippians 4:8), the more God gently loves us. He has a way of softening the edges, sliding through the cracks, and entering our darkest places. God is the image bearer, light-keeper, and grace-gifter.” Mary Geisen, “The Advent Narrative-The Life You Didn’t Know You Were Already Living”
The Saturday morning sunlight is creating a pattern of undeniable hope on my lap. I’ll not ignore it, the glorious sameness of grace, of hope, of faith.
I am growing, God is waiting with me in the waiting.
Purchase this book filled with truth, inviting wonder here:
The two homes on the cul de sac are inviting Christmas early. One changed overnight from a massive friendly ghost inflatable to a same size “Frosty” snowman waving at me as I walk by. The second, more subtle a view, the front door open to allow my peeking in, a tree lit simply in a corner. One reminding me of great big joy and the other a decided upon peace.
The tree is up early in my granddaughter’s room. My daughter, a teacher exhausted over what may come next for her students, watched Christmas movies with her baby, sang songs about jingling bells and dressed her in pink peppermint pajamas.
All of it, beauty!
The deciding to celebrate Christmas in November and groaning in our hearts and souls for a star, a sign symbolic of hope.
Jesus was born and everything changed.
And now centuries later, we are still longing for Christmas. We are so very weary, so very.
“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” O’ Holy Night
The air was crisp on our walk this morning. We danced along with music in my pocket, looked towards the sky and we rubbed our hands on the cool ground and moss pillows on the hill.
Christmas, I wondered last night before sleeping, how will it be? Will the animosity over politics, vaccines, mask wearing or not wearing ever end?
Will Christmas be quiet this year, requiring less frantic buying and limited travel, limited dining together?
Will we be home alone?
If so, will we know this is God’s will for this time, His idea?
Will we trust in Jesus? Will we keep believing God sees us?
“Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah” Psalm 77:9 ESV
Will we open our Bibles, find comfort in the likemindedness of the psalmist? Will we be reassured of His goodness because of the evidence of more goodness than we can possibly recall?
Will we see ourselves in the Gospels as we reacquaint ourselves with the birth to resurrection story of the baby born in a manger, Jesus?
I pray I am able, pray I avoid the trap of worry, of not knowing the last word in this season’s book and I pray the book becomes one of lessons with resolution not a cliffhanger waiting for the sequel.
Christmas, come early. Come sooner than later. We long for your star. We long for the peace it promised then and promises still.
“I love Thee, Lord Jesus Look down from the sky And stay by my side ‘Til morning is nighBe near me, Lord Jesus I ask Thee to stay Close by me forever And love me, I pray…” Away in A Manger”
Be near us Jesus, as we continue on the paths you place us.
Christmas, come soon. Find us as we find you again. Find ourselves remembering the meaning of Christmas, you, a Savior born for every single soul.
Last night the dreams did that filtering thing, bringing all the half processed thoughts to the surface so that morning’s arrival could have a blank slate.
Angry encounters, loneliness amongst others, worry, an almost real sense of illness and a vivid place of being taken advantage of.
I understand the purpose of dreams when they are this threatening, this vulnerability revealing.
What was heavy becomes evidence now of false narrative and a waking up to return to truth.
“I am convinced that any suffering we endure is less than nothing compared to the magnitude of glory that is about to be unveiled within us.” Romans 8:18 TPT
Last weekend my husband and I stole away for a couple of days in a time it seems we’re supposed to be hunkering down, getting ready to fight, a time of yet more uncertain events.
We were among the leaves, the curving hills and valleys, the powerful rush of water, the sound of leaves tousling under our feet and dancing downward.
In the afternoon I sat and rocked alone on the old porch shielded by camellias. The inn was uncrowded because of pandemic.
I simply sat. Several minutes into the comfort of nothingness, I turned to see an oddity.
In the corner of the porch, the shape of a dark bird sat. I turned away and then looked again, still there.
I puzzled over the shape. Had somebody left a carved bird there for sweet decoration, was it one of those country birds people put on a shelf, the legs dangling?
I waited, no hurry to decide what it was.
I began to be sure that it was there just for me. My soul was stilled. The world around me a mess and yet, I am sitting quietly with a simply beautiful view and I’m rocking gently in an old wooden chair.
All was good, was well.
Sunset approached and I quietly decided to see more closely the figure in the corner.
I stepped gingerly and I saw it, a sparrow who allowed my visit and then fluttered away.
I went to tell my husband and to dress for dinner. As we stepped towards the porch I shushed him, maybe we will see it.
And we did. Back in its safe place, we both saw the bird.
“It’s roosting.” my husband said.
The bird wasn’t there when we returned after dinner nor on Sunday when we departed.
Only Saturday as I sat resting from hiking and in between a good long call with my son and a FaceTime with my daughter and hers.
I knew it was God.
I know it was His nearness in a visit with a roosting bird.
Now I know roosting is different than nesting as far as the pattern of a bird. Roosting is sitting still, finding a place to rest and returning there for comfort, for safety.
Maybe we roost when we allow our souls to rest in God’s tender but massive hand. Maybe we confidently return to our little place.
“A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, A wonderful Savior to me; He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, Where rivers of pleasure I see. He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, That shadows a dry, thirsty land; He hideth my life in the depths of His love, And covers me there with His hand, And covers me there with His hand.”
I pray you know God’s nearness today, that the noise of all other is quieted by a view, a song, a sound and that if sleep awakens buried fears, you wake with assurance of being never alone and you rest in the safe place of that knowledge.