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.

Turn the Page

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, freedom, hope, memoir, mercy, Redemption, traumatriggers, Vulnerability, wisdom

“And if anyone doesn’t listen to you and rejects your message, when you leave that house or town, shake the dust off your feet.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:14‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I can hear it clearly. My mama would say “Turn the page.” and if necessary, repeated just those words.

Move one, let go, carry on kind of thinking, no need to linger here thinking of the wrong.

Waking Thoughts

I’ve learned to pay attention to waking thoughts. After filtering the crazy dreams (last night my mama was napping while someone else cooked supper, pork chops) I wait to see what resolution of yesterday’s woe comes to the surface.

A question came today, “Am I difficult to work with or were they?” An honest assessment of my part and another’s led me to realize, I’d done my part and they hadn’t. I could see this issue, unmet expectations in many areas of my life.

I’m not great at advocating for myself. It’s a learned behavior. I’m even less good at moving on past doors that didn’t welcome me.

I am learning this stems from unmet childhood needs and it’s a tough thing to identify, am I needy or are they not meeting my needs?

It’s a trauma wound and a trigger, a very good thing to know how it affects you and whether your appraisals of others are accurate or if you’re needing longed for acceptance.

“You’re very good at understanding your flaws.” someone told me.

Yes, I’ve gotten better and it has led to growth and wholeness. It has led to this truth and even more seeking:

“God will continue to bring people, circumstances, behaviors of others into your life until you consistently know the approval, acceptance, and applause of others will never compare to His love. Notice of others will never be enough, won’t last long, and often will disappoint. People who court you can’t always be trusted. People who promise may forget they promised and people will forget they knew you or might not open their door.”

Turn the page. Walk away. Walk towards God’s call.

Carry on.

Jesus told his disciples to shake the dust from their feet, head to a new city, away from those who didn’t receive them or their message.

You will not be accepted by everyone.

Be smart. Be astute observers. But, be gentle. It may be scary to “put yourself out there”. You’ll feel vulnerable, being vulnerable is a sign of authentic faith. Doing things you can’t see clearly resulting in acceptance or rejection.

Be remembered as kind and gentle; but, exercise the accuracy and wisdom God gave you.

If you’re rejected, continue on another way. But, don’t give up. (my takeaways)

“Now, remember, it is I who sends you out, even though you feel vulnerable as lambs going into a pack of wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes yet as harmless as doves.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:16‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I write about what God brings me in my own process of healing from past trauma.

I write reluctantly often.

A voice on one side saying no one wants to hear that and another saying your honesty about your continued healing and clarity about your triggers and negative patterns may help someone else.

I write because I’m simply continuing as I believe in redemption through Jesus, a prettier story of hope and wisdom comes every single merciful morning.

I hope so for you too. Shake the dust of yesterday’s defeats off your shoulders and carry on.

Carry on today.

“He will guard and guide me, never letting me stumble or fall. God is my keeper; he will never forget nor ignore me.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭121:3‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Geraniums and Guitars

bravery, Children, confidence, contentment, daughters, Faith, family, memoir, Motherhood, Peace, sons, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder

The window box of my kitchen window was flowerless last year. Summer 2020 had only half-heartedness as far as color, bloom and tradition.

Days of sanitizing my arms, my car, my doorknobs, my conversations in a way, all caused by a virus.

Life was compromised by fear, animosity prompted by that fear and questions that seemed very unfair until I remembered no one knows what to do.

They don’t know either.

Fear is so much like anger.

Down the hall, leaning against the wall are two guitars, both in need of repair, one only worth fixing most likely. I’ll take it to my friend’s shop today.

I believe in its redemption after several hard years of refusing to let it go, but maybe uncertainty over whether it has importance.

This year, the geraniums are planted already.

Bordered by soft white tiny flowers, the vibrant red in the center tells me good morning and good evening as I stand in the kitchen.

Geraniums were my mama’s favorite, not necessarily mine. My daddy played guitar although I have only one vague memory of hearing him.

I only have the stories of others, stories of how he loved it.

How it loved him.

My mama taught me about plants, water early before the sun gets hot and again before it goes to bed.

Commitment leads to beauty.

I’m close to my parents long passed away because I plant red geraniums and I keep a guitar next to a nightstand.

It’s a weak substitution for conversations we never had, for reconciliation and resolution of hurts I may have caused them and they caused me.

Still, it feels perfect, the comfort of a red geranium and a silent guitar.

I’ve had chances to use the word “imperfect” as a description of my parenting with my children.

It feels like a balm to be able to tell them what they already know.

I pray that’s the way they see it, a gesture unlike stuff or sacrifice of sleep or even monetary indulgences.

I pray they’ve seen my heart quite a lot and enough.

The way I see the heart of my mama in my window box geraniums and in a quietly resting guitar down the hall.

It feels like honor. It feels like they are near, like peace. I embrace it.

“Dedicate your children to God and point them in the way that they should go, and the values they’ve learned from you will be with them for life.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:6‬ ‭TPT‬‬

God of the Clouds

bravery, confidence, courage, Faith, family, fear, grace, Peace, praise, Prayer, rest, Vulnerability, wisdom
all of it lining up

You can be sure I prayed on my first flight. There were many things I found odd and being a “noticer” of people, longing to exchange stories, clearly I was out of my element.

The woman next to me seemed flustered. I let her have the armrest the entire three plus hours. She, dressed in a tie dye hoodie with Colorado across her chest, made a low mumbling sound upon takeoff.

I closed my eyes, opened my palm and I said a prayer for us both.

She “played possum” or was sleeping.

The expectation of turbulence was announced and again an audible groan followed by a few more from the woman beside me.

I can’t tell you how close I came to offering my hand.

It was very difficult not to. Me, an empath deciding she was in need of kindness.

Instead, I read. “The Dutch House” is a captivating read about siblings, dysfunctional families and children who continued moving towards reconciliation and making sense of that dysfunction.

I read until I couldn’t stop my fear.

The plane seemed to be slowing. I raised the shade on the window to see we were on top of the clouds.

This didn’t calm me. Nor was I captivated by the beautiful reality.

I was surprised.

Me, the lover of noticing God in the splendor of His creation, not at all taken by the view.

I expected to be in awe. Instead, I clearly thought, “This is not natural. You don’t belong up here.”

That thought fed my fear and so I opened my tattered devotional, “Joy and Strength”.

I did a thing I sometimes do, see how dates or numbers might line up to send a good message from God to me.

I turned to page 327. The passages and commentary were about life and about death, about the reality of both.

“It may mean sickness as well as health; death as well as life; loss as well as gain; peril as well as safety; shipwreck by sea and accident on land…” Anthony W. Thorold

Okay.

I paused.

I thought, okay, okay and then thought maybe there are things I should have said to my family that I didn’t.

I sat calmly.

My eyes returned to the sweat crumpled boarding pass, Flight 372, Gate A53, Seat 12A (close to the emergency exit, close to the engine, next to someone who kept silent).

Not Flight 327, no it was 372 and this number had no relevance other than being the index page in the back of my book!

I settled, it was settled.

God is in the clouds.

With me.

All is well.

“Through you I’m saved—rescued from every trouble…Psalm 54:7

I’ll most likely fly again.

I’ll understand better that it’s a means to a destination,

settle in,

be still,

say your prayers,

clinch your fist upon landing,

be quietly cordial as you exit.

You got this, God is with you, the God of earth and sky.

Continue and believe

Helping Ourselves

Abuse Survivor, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, memoir, Redemption, rest, Truth, Vulnerability, wisdom
Redeemed and Free

A few weeks ago, a dear friend and counselor was honest with me.

I had been chasing my trauma rabbits again. They are fast and very persistent in telling me I should catch up, latch on, hold one I might catch and cling ahold of and carry it around, allow it to rest on my chest, a familiar companion.

The trail had gotten treacherous. The call to explore new healing methods. To abandon the promises of my faith.

Everything and everyone an unknowing trigger in some stance or posture.

Attack.

My friend told me I had begun to make my trauma an altar. I cried without reservation. I welcomed her declaration.

If you’ve read this far, you’re thinking, why doesn’t she stop sharing this stuff?!

Or, you understand.

And maybe say thanks.

If the latter is the case, I want to bring you comfort, a little self-talk, prayers and assertions that are keeping me from kneeling at the ill-intentioned altar of my significant, but, no longer present trauma.

“You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?

It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:7-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

You are safe. God is making sure.

The people who prompt reminders of your horror are not harming you.

This is not that.

Lord, I thank you for seeing the potential in me and my story. It’s why I get to write and paint and love others. Thank you redirecting me, thank you for placing people in my life who catch me when I’m falling, when I’m bending on scarred knees to lie funeral flowers on the grave of my past, the memories of my abuse, the altar of my trauma. Thank you for not allowing fear to cut in.

Because of your great love,

Amen.

Praying While Standing

Angels, bravery, Children, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, grace, Motherhood, Prayer, Vulnerability, wisdom

“You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:2‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Kansas City Angel

On Thursday, I woke with the weight of a rock on my chest and acknowledged it by lying silently. I shifted the blanket and thought of the questionable source, the concern that I felt was my fault, realizing it was something other than me, the reason I had reason to worry.

I stayed with the revelation and accepted that it was not mine to change.

The change would come in a healing God may bring or in acceptance of the thing I named unmanageable becoming not best, but okay.

I thought of prayer, of prayer when worries are best left secret.

I read Psalm 139 again, the Passion translation, the confidence of David that God is love, that God is listening.

Because of travel, my mornings are different, only pockets of alone time, no journal, no books, just quiet finding me when it knows I need to be found.

I wrote the morning’s thoughts and shared them on Instagram. I was better then, hoped someone else was as well.

How often do you keep your feelings to yourself? Is there wisdom you have for others that might be better left unsaid?

Prayer is the place made for secrets.

God knows everything about us, our fears, our nagging worries, our catastrophic endings we write to stories based on fear’s perception.

Fear may be valid. Fear is not helpful. Fear forces one of two choices. Join in a conversation with God. Pray and tell him the secrets you keep from others that He already knows, just wants us to be open in sharing. Or let fear strangle your thoughts and hope.

Tell God where your faith is feeling shaky. He will rekindle your hope and He will increase your quiet courage.

Everyone has a secret sorrow waiting to be changed to trust and joy when brought to God in the quietness of prayer.

God knows and loves us so well.

David understood. He strayed, struggled and was deeply honest. He never stopped returning to the place he knew and was known, the presence of our sovereign God.

The morning became purposeful.

I walked a couple of blocks for our coffee and returned to a load of laundry, my clothes would be straightened and organized, this would be better.

I walked down the narrow stairs to the basement. Quietly, I passed the door of another tenant and turned to hear the washer still rumbling.

Five minutes left in the cycle according to the little green light on the old coin fed washer.

I stood facing the dryer.

I waited.

I prayed, the freely coming names and needs of others and I passed the time by passing them one by one to the ear of my Father.

Five minutes, unselfishly motivated, my attention completely turned to others who God brought up.

Thank you, God, for reminding me that you are more than enough when I feel I am incapable. Thank you for turning my thoughts to others to say to me your grace towards me is enough.

Is still enough.

Tree in City Park, Denver

The small suitcase is lying open on the floor of my son’s new home, the one he decided has “soul” and I smile now, happy that my tendency towards loving words that are fitting, is a part of him too.

My friend and counselor talked me through the airport in this big city.

She prayed for me and is praying.

I am borrowing her carry-on even though I had one already.

I am confident because of her and others and because I’ve kept my promise to my son.

There’s been no crying.

There have been photos. He’s kept his part of the promise.

Fear is such an angry emotion, so disproportionate to faith when the enemy takes over.

Fear likes to get a head start, likes to overtake you when you’re groggy, tired or lonely.

It has you siding with thoughts that destroy you, causing you to think you’re simply preparing your defense.

Fear is not pretty.

Life fully embraced is.

I’m researching trees in the quiet this morning, fascinated by the one in the park and the similar one anchoring my son’s new home.

I want to call them cedars because of what God says about those. I want them to be special, memorable, like a charm God kept secret knowing I’d be here to be captivated.

Comforted.

But, I think they may be spruce or a particular pine not known to southerners.

Either way, their beauty is peace and their standing is strength.

Strong by the Water

“He will be standing firm like a flourishing tree planted by God’s design, deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss, bearing fruit in every season of life. He is never dry, never fainting, ever blessed, ever prosperous.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭TPT‬‬

God is everywhere. Don’t forget to notice.

Say your prayers.

Continue and believe.

Purposefully Believing

Art, bravery, Children, confidence, contentment, courage, hope, Labradors, Prayer, sons, Stillness, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

Early morning Tennessee rain has changed to an aura of grey as we move towards another state.

Yesterday’s drive was different, big city construction on roads and a sense oh how and when will the traffic ease.

But, we made it and were welcomed by the quaint little house in the city known for music.

We didn’t venture towards the fame. We had quesadillas seated under walls with screens of baseball games.

And talked.

This morning the interstate is a soft ribbon through a border of trees leading us towards an arbor of even more.

I’ve just turned to notice horses in a field and a newly plowed place for seeds.

I told my son how I love how he loves good music.

Serenaded together, we are.

The Labrador door is sleeping well.

“We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Last night, we turned in early. Me earliest, allowing my son his own time. I paused a podcast at the place of it becoming annoying chatter. I closed my eyes and prayed myself to sleep as I heard the jet it seemed very close overhead.

I thought of flying. I thought of the comfort I felt and I slept.

Thinking I believe God’s promises. I believe the writers of the promises they saw come true too.

I believe God knew I’d be traveling across the country with my son and his dog and I believe He knew there’d be an Air BnB an exit away from the Nashville airport.

And that I wouldn’t hear the airplane until I’d finished praying.

I believe these things.

I believe I am fully known and loved.

I believe this way and when I do I am quite okay.

Continue and believe.

This way, purposefully.

Beauty and Complexity

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, hope, memoir, Peace, Prayer, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder
Things of Beauty

The space was filled with exquisite ideas for design, paintings covered every wall. Artisan made coffee tables and rich leather chairs draped in soft throws over the arms. I arrived with art as a prospective newly represented artist and departed with my paintings and a tiny bit of hope.

Big hopes were thwarted.

A happy voice greeted me and then asked to hear “my artist” story and then I heard hers. She loves working with graphite, she told me, and practices in portraiture. Her iPad with the shattered screen was her gallery that day.

With every sketch or painting, she asked. “Do you see where this went wrong, do you see the error?”

Then she told me. One watercolor she’d entered into an exhibit was of elephants, a mother and baby.

I was drawn to the painting and she explained she’d given it to her mother. As she explained her technique, again telling me where she botched the color and had to fix it and then decided to let the mistake of the pale blue remain, I was captivated by the wrinkles.

I told her so, the detail in the trunks, the layering of pencil and color, the beautiful wrinkles were perfect, touchable.

Last week, I prepared for an interview. I arranged myself and my laptop in a corner and having curled my hair and found a blouse with bright color, I turned my phone to selfie mode to get a glimpse of how I’d be appearing on screen.

I’m horrible at selfies. Do you smile? Do you pretend you don’t know you’re taking your own photo? Do you look at the ceiling? What’s that angle that’s said to be becoming?

I stared at the several shots. I hurried to the closet to change from one blouse to others.

The neckline of the first one accentuated the crepes in the stretchy place on my neck. It was unavoidable and too late to be concerned, too evident to be remedied.

The wrinkles could not be erased.

I sat and prayed and there was peace in my expression, peace with the production manager, the interview and in my responses to kind and unexpected questions.

God was with me.

“You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb. I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:13-14‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I thought of the elephant artist, the way she discounted the work her hands created.

I wondered if God felt that way. If God sees and saw me despising my appearance, expressing self-hatred over my weight, my sparse eyelashes, the intricate texture on the place where my necklace rests.

The necklace that has a small gold cross, the one a tiny girl reaches for to say, “I love your necklace, Grandma,

I love your cross.”

The magnolia leaves my daughter uses for decor will soon be replaced.

The verdant green is drying to a darker tone. The underside is curling and the veins are more evident, magnolia leave wrinkles now.

But, still a regal sort of beauty, a strength as a table display.

I’ve returned to the practice of the “Pause” app after growing bored with it.

I was required to start over because of a new phone. The old phone charted my listening and I had listened over 700 minutes.

As of yesterday, I’m at 11.

I listened again and the words of the prayer are now resonating new and different.

“I was created for union with you.” The Pause app prayer

God, my creator longs to be united with me, with us.

United in thought, in decision, in praying and in listening, God waits so close he could reach out His hand to mine, possibly soothe the wrinkles that now cover my hands, the hands of an artist, a creative who gets carried away by color and ideas.

The complexity of me, He knows completely.

Says keep learning, keep learning and discovering you according to Me.

The beauty and value of wrinkles, a display of me in you and you with me.

Heavenly Father, thank you for mornings and quiet rediscovering of you. You are with me. You spare me from harm. You give me courage. You calm me when I notice and you strengthen me when I feel belittled or unable. You’re the lifter of my head and the lover of my soul. You give me songs to celebrate my growing. When I feel cornered, you join me in that dimly lit place, you tell me “I am here.”

The interview went well. There was talk of art and there was talk of God.

A song stayed with me that afternoon.

Oh! Christ be magnified
Let His praise arise
Christ be magnified in me
Oh! Christ be magnified
From the altar of my life
Christ be magnified in me

A Great Affection

Abuse Survivor, bravery, contentment, courage, curiousity, Faith, freedom, grace, kindness, mercy, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Salvation, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder, writing
It is My Story

Twice I saw the man with the cross. Once on the southern part of town, the busy places, the reckless and impatient drivers, the scurrying about grocery shoppers in the days before Easter Sunday.

Then again downtown, on the northern side, blocks from the pretty shops, the sidewalk strollers, he was at an intersection.

The first time, he walked with the wooden cross, a display of his allegiance. He carried the beams joined together and he’d decorated the center with Easter colored florals. I seem to remember he himself was dressed in a jacket and was intentionally put together in a way that seemed to be his best.

At an intersection, two days later, he stood next to a bicycle. The bike, the big cross and this man.

I’d never seen him before.

I waited at the light and glanced to my left. Waiting as well to cross was a man in shorts, unshaven and gazing down at his work-boot clad feet, a faded backpack slipping down from his shoulder.

I didn’t recognize him either. In my years of homeless work I’d seen many like these two, just not them. I thought of their condition, I assumed mental illness and addiction.

I woke with regret over that supposed reason for their condition, their behavior and decision.

I drove downtown and across town yesterday hoping to see one or both.

I didn’t.

The Book of Mark’s introduction in the back of my Bible tells me that the writer is possibly anonymous, theological experts say he wrote his gospel based on Peter’s teaching. I love the tone in Mark’s words. I’m certain I would have been fixed on the words of Peter preaching too.

I read Mark’s description of John the Baptist and I immediately thought of the man on the bike with the flower adorned cross.

“Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.”Mark‬ ‭1:6-7 ESV‬‬

John the Baptist, the son of Elizabeth, the unborn child who was moved by the presence of Jesus while in his mother’s womb.

It was his purpose to go first and then point to the one others like me should follow.

Maybe the man with the cross and the man crossing the intersection began a conversation as I drove home.

Maybe the assumed “crazy” countenance of the one honoring Jesus that day led to questions and then to answers.

Maybe the one I assumed would speak of Jesus was all wrong, maybe the man without the cross was the giver.

Maybe the man worn and weary, walking alone from somewhere had a story to tell.

Maybe the two shared their affection for Jesus.

Andrew Peterson has a voice of comfort, a call to consider love and understanding in most of his songs. Honestly, he beckons us to understand ourselves and then better understand others.

This song, this morning beckons me to consider the ways I don’t understand Jesus’ love for me and then to decide it’s not for me to understand completely, only to accept and believe it.

“And even in the days when I was young
There seemed to be a song beyond the silence
The feeling in my bones was much too strong
To just deny it. I can’t deny this. I’ve been seized by the power of a great affection
Seized by the power of a great affection.” Andrew Peterson

I took time to listen this morning, the song Pandora plays for me often. I remembered telling my first real boss that I chose to work in careers that helped others because of a little girl decision. I remembered being certain that I understood the burdens of other children and as a little girl, I knew I’d be called to help them.

I had no idea back then, that was Jesus calling me tenderly towards today, the notice of other tender hearts, the prayers for people as I see them on the street or downcast in the grocery aisle. The sharing of a book filled with birds for children that closes with the assurance of Jesus.

Not just for children.

I hadn’t thought of that shy little girl that I was for a very long time until I listened.

Listen here: The Power of a Great Affection

Days ago, a conversation sparked a reply from someone. I can’t even recall the reason, only the confident answer.

“That’s not my J-man.”

Some might find that irreverent, casual, or cocky.

Like the man walking the streets of my town bent by his cross, me comforted by a song that brings peace, Jesus is a personal Savior.

We call to him and he answers, answers to even “J-man” I believe.

He loves us just that way.

Personally.

Secretly, He knows us intensely and individually.

Loves us with a great affection.

It has no end.

I pray you know this great affection, that His story becomes yours too.

Continue and believe.