31 Days, Freely – Start

I’m good at neither rushing nor resting.

I concoct purposeful and passionate scenarios of diligent sticking to something and going long and hard without a break.

I imagine myself contentedly uninterrupted, a book in my lap.

But, both elude me.

Both take practice, commitment, a chance to see the benefit.

Going ahead without allowing hesitation or giving myself reprieve, permission to chill.

I’m sitting home alone, it’s Sunday and it’s sunny. The cool air of the night before has the rooms faintly fresher and the shift of the season quite clear.

Captivated by the book in my lap, “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan and tea in a pretty cup, I told myself read a chapter and then go, write a chapter.

Seemed like a good plan, inspirational, my content might flow more freely.

But, I’m three chapters in and still reading. This is a gift, this is a pleasure I’d long thought gone, being pulled in and unable to set a thick book aside.

Now, I’m rethinking the ambition of writing new chapters or layering abstracted thick color on a new something I started.

Instead, I’ll keep reading and when my eyes get heavy, I might dose or I may rise to walk the trail before the sneaking up of sunset.

I may look for them again, the tiny blackbirds up high in an old oak or the surprise sighting of seven or so cardinals all gathered together, red dots bouncing and bobbing against the green.

What I have started I will finish, I’ll come back and I’ll continue.

Fearlessly, faithfully what has begun will continue.

“Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.”

‭‭Jude‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Giving myself a little mercy, peace and love on a sunny Sunday.

31 Days, Freely – Pause

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:18‬

My “life verse” is bordered before by caution and consequence of stubborn rushing ahead and after, with gracious reminder of what good comes from waiting, from being attentive to God.

“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord, “who carry out a plan, but not mine…”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Beware the place you arrive without pause. me

It wasn’t a life-changing yes or no. I’d done my research, asked for input from another.

A nominal purchase, was my pull towards jumping in to the opportunity because of the way it was marketed as invaluable, making possible my impossible success as a writer or

was it fear of missing chances,

not being able ever at all?

So, I paused. I gave the decision space and an honest self examination.

I chose not to make what was touted as essential, a sure path, success in my creative goals.

I let it be, left it alone.

God revealed another way, something I already own.

At my fingertips, the tools and in my thoughts, deeply planted abilities are gradually peeping through towards the light.

I was reminded in my pause.

Can’t believe sometimes, I continue this writing not much more than a journal. So many bloggers, I’m just one and my readership is oh, so small.

Yet, this daily thing is practice and it flows steady, gently from my daily morning pause.

Uncontrived.

I pause, I’m reminded.

Lord, help me not to flee frantically from the quiet place with you, the place where you keep me, continue to make me strong.

Keep me from the need for acclaim. Keep me in the quiet places where I hear you clearly saying, don’t go after that, I have equipped you, see me, see you. You are able, Lisa Anne; but, never, on your own. Let me lead you in the way you know so very well and let it show.

The way of quiet confidence, be willing.

Believe.

Because of mercy, Amen

“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

31 Days, Freely – Praise

I suppose I’m a quiet “praiser”. Not so much keep it to myself glory to God; but, not one to raise my hands during song or praise or prayer.

I tell you, it’s a beautiful thing to see, to be in the presence of.

Someone off in the distance or someone not distant at all whose eyes are closed in listening, worshipping, honoring mode and their hands won’t contain themselves…can’t hide their joy.

Oh, how I understand that joy.

I’m prone to soaking it all in, holding it close in my heart, my hands at my side, I may fold my hands like a little girl sayin’ the blessing and then I slowly open one hand and the other

And I might lift my palms toward heaven and give and receive.

Receive and then, give.

Praise.

Or mostly, I sit in the quiet that I find or am allowed and I write little notes to my Father, long or scribbled revelations of my growing, His grace, His protection.

Oh, how my pencil praises!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below.

My story, my song, praising in our own little ways all the day long.

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

The one who’s kept me close, kept me grounded while growing, pulled me from the dangerous edges when I’ve gotten too scarily close and kept me, keeps me, loves me still, keeps me still.

31 Days, Freely -Belong

The Spring before my daddy died, he planted potatoes. The air was cool and my children watched, their bottoms plopped down on the dirt, my daughter with her arms wrapped around her baby brother.

If you asked my daddy if he was a farmer he’d have said no because he wasn’t a farmer and the potatoes weren’t a necessary crop.

If being a farmer depended upon breaking up the soil, walking out the spaces between the slices of potatoes planted, well, yes he was a farmer.

He belonged among the farmers.

I woke up this morning thinking about the harvest, about the keeping at it to reap what I sow.

My daddy was meticulous about how the potatoes were planted.

Just a small plot of land my cousin wasn’t planning to use, next to my house, so I got to watch him stand over it, waiting for what was happening underneath.

I read this morning about perseverance, about persistence.

Thinking about this season my friend is calling our harvest, I sensed a sure stirring, a need to grow.

I’d been distracted, disgruntled, pulled away and pitiful, decided I was never gonna reap from all that I had sown.

Jesus told a story about seeds and what we do with them and how we get disenchanted with the idea of us making something grow.

We don’t stay with it, we let our hopes go.

He told of people who only stick with it for awhile or people who’d just toss their seeds toward the not broken up soil as if to say, that’s it now God, make it grow!

“And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.”

‭‭Luke 8:13-14

I thought about my daddy and his potatoes, bothered that I couldn’t remember, did we go back to reap the harvest, dig up the little baby red potatoes? Did he get to see how well his last crop had grown, how abundant his harvest was that last year?

Jesus continues, explaining how we are made to flourish, lead others to flourishing.

“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The soil was always good where my daddy planted his garden. He had an honest and good heart, he was patient with his potatoes.

Daddy belonged among the farmers, I believe.

Maybe I, among the writers, the planters, the sowers and the patient, holding fast to be mature believers.

31 Days, Freely -Share

This morning I’ll make a little video, less than a minute or so of Michelle sharing the story of our shelter, Nurture Home.

She smiled when I described the time she’d done this before, the way she spoke so smoothly like honey and her pauses and the slight tilt as she spoke in a way sharing like a sweet, sweet song.

I love the storytelling part of my work, hands down my favorite part, I abhor the budget, can’t stand the asking for money.

The asking, the putting oneself out there always comes with the risk of rejection.

Last night, I ran risky past sundown because I left the gym without ever going in. Checking email, there it was, another no, another rejection in a string of three.

I cranked my car, turned down the radio and said ok, ok, adjust your sails, you’re not out here in this big sea all alone.

I drove back home and planted pansies for my grandma then ran real hard with good solid songs in my ear.

Running from the dark, I decided and posted on Instagram. A friend commented and I shared what was causing my darkness. Her reply was so sublime!

“Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

She understood, she was so very kind.

In this great big world, we all have a story and a story to tell. Today, it’s a work story I’ll tell; but, it’s my life story too.

God placed me in this position for a purpose.

I’m so glad he lets me help to change some stories and then to tell them, hear them, celebrate them too!

And later, I’ll let go of my ideas and ideals for my writing. I could stop altogether or I could continue more surrendered and less striving.

I could remember, let go and let God and like my mama said, be the passenger, let God drive the train.

Telling my story, His way, His time and place.

To God be the glory.

31 Days, Freely – Believe

My mama never kept a journal or to my knowledge, wrote thoughts in a Bible.

So, I can’t say I “get that from my mama”.

She’d rather speak her truths to you, long conversations with time in between her phrases to let what she’d given you sink in. Look you in the eye or leave something with you and look away, walk away like that’s it, now I’m puttin’ a period there.

I believe every single thing she ever said.

Lots of times there was no acceptable reply, either she’d put me in my place or I had to just keep my mouth shut and let the sometimes unwelcome truth sink in.

She was resilient.

She believed in the possibility of everything working out for good despite so much wrong she endured.

She rarely quoted scripture, just paraphrased God’s truths in her own no holds barred way. Some would call it irreverent, her language was generous with cuss words.

I don’t think she aspired to write and I rarely recall a book in her lap, she’d rather be one with people, one with life.

She talked about books in a different way, telling me “turn the page, Lisa Anne.” when I kept mulling over some misdeed or misfortune.

She was quick to give her commentary on all that might be wrong or someone’s crazy choices or just mean motives.

She’d say “They’re not reading the right book or they’re not on the same page.”

I know she had a Bible. I know because it was mine and towards the end of her days I noticed it moved from the stack of old Southern Living magazines to the place in front of her where she’d fall asleep with the noise of Fox news.

I know she believed. I know she wanted us all, the four of us to always believe.

To pray, believing more often than beckoning or begging.

To smile, thinking how far we’ve all come and how far she and daddy got to see us go and grow.

Yesterday, I had an encounter with someone who has changed. A distant person who acknowledged her resistance towards relationship, she stopped by to give me a book.

She had a cold, I’d had to same one, I shared. She let me hug her and she hugged me back.

We walked out and I told her she’d reminded me of a new favorite word, “countenance”.

She was puzzled, said she had never heard it before and I told her I thought it might be biblical but that it’s such a beautiful word, a beautiful thing to see.

I explained that it means to me, your sweet soul is shining through, the change in expression showing so pretty on your face.

She thanked me twice, and more.

I thanked her for stopping by.

Thanking her and God now for reminding me of my mama.

Reminding me to choose believing.

Believing God is so very good.

“Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.””

‭‭John‬ ‭16:32-33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And to “live life today”, and then tomorrow live and believe again as you “turn the page”.

My mama’s stubborn resilience and God’s unwavering and believable peace and grace, I’m believing in both today.

Potentially

The idea of God’s mercy never-ending lining up with the potential He sees in me is almost too much to take in.

I put potential in a corner, my pattern of hoping not to be a bother, praying not be noticed, doing what I learned to believe was my role, to be content, to never need more than just enough…

Potential is a mystery some days, a misnomer, how could it be for me?

An inaccurate description, uncertain pursuit.

It takes a while to believe in it. I have to hear, read it in God’s word and get little glimpses of it when I least expect.

Yesterday, I heard a radio pastor remind me that I have no clue all that God will enable me to do if I simply choose to believe and continue with Him.

A conversation immediately clicked like a light, the realization of something God is making possible for me through an exchange with another I remembered.

A second encounter, a stranger saw my art and introduced an idea I’d never thought, possibly I’ll pursue.

And a third, I was intrigued by a new mindset in fundraising for our struggling non-profit. Just a slight change in wording, if businesses are for profit, we should be calling our programs “for purpose”, taking the “non” completely out the equation and mindset.

I assure you, this was not expected!

Clarity

Potential

Mercy, all lining up!

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭33:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

His mercy never ends and it triumphs judgment.

I hear more clearly now as He says

“Oh no…don’t you believe the lie that you’re not able, not worthy, that there’s no potential in you. Look around, look to me, you’ll see little by little and then occasionally more clearly.

Your potential is great. Remember my mercy towards you, there’s a reason it never ends, there’s so much more for you to know, to experience, to contribute. I made you, I should know.”

linking up with others, prompted by potential here: Five Minute Friday