Never Fails

Abuse Survivor, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, grace, Holy Spirit, hope, memoir, mercy, Prayer, Redemption, Trust, Vulnerability, wonder, writing

If you will get quiet, God will come near and tie up the edges of your thoughts, bring them together and bind them as a chapter in your story.

I know this to be true.

Last week, a stranger called. Someone told her I had connections, good at problem solving, helping others not give up.

I listened and advised, adding I’m not really connected any longer with people in places of helping others.

I listened as she told her story, one of divorce, of children who struggled, of being diagnosed with physical infirmity.

“Everything has me feeling so broken.” she said.

“When we accept our brokenness and give up our own repairs, we allow God to make beautiful things of our lives.

Quietly, she agreed and thanked me for reassuring her that the connections she has already made are the right ones.

This morning, quiet with God, I thought of a song’s lyrics, “we won’t be shaken” and I journaled a tender note to myself remembering my talk with the stranger.

Love never fails. I Corinthians 13:8

The note to self, confirmation that according to God, I am enough. The rich blessings I know are more than I expected. I can rest. I can quiet my soul.

Art, writing, telling my story of redemption, these are I suppose options, either way, I am loved.

Do you believe God loves you no matter your talent, success or bravery? It’s a difference maker, this realization.

It’s the evidence of the presence of His Spirit in you, the comfort of truly doing things to God’s glory, not yours. It’s the sign of surrender that will set you free.

I’m only beginning to see. Still, it is freedom for me.

Some know of my book idea, the redemption story I’ve carried for very long. God turned the tables on that story and is piece by piece, giving me a more beautiful one, one that’s not relentless in remembering the past, focused on women like me who bravely stepped forward.

Who’s to say if it will be written. I’m okay either way. The beautiful thing, God is okay with me as well.

The same is true for you, the gracious and merciful love of God guiding your every endeavor.

Visualize it. God looking down on you, seeing your capabilities, your talents, your unique approach to sharing your God story. I see Him seeing us, seeing us getting closer to the story He wrote of us, seeing us combine His love, our bravery and just enough humility.

Whether or not you follow through on the things God made you to do, beautiful ideas only for you, is mercifully up to you.

Oh, that you would bless me indeed, enlarge my borders, that your hand would be with me and keep me from harm so that I would not be in pain. Jabez’s prayer

What can hear God saying in the quiet?

Listen. He’s patient in your response, gracious no matter your decision.

His love never fails. Let your life tell others.

Grace and Intention

Abuse Survivor, bravery, courage, Faith, fear, grace, mercy, obedience, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Salvation, surrender, Uncategorized, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder, writing

She told me a heartbreaking story and how she came to accept it.

She said,

“God said, ‘that was my intention’.”

I woke today and met rejection. An email quickly skimmed and moved on to the folder marked trash.

I’d told myself submit and if it is for you, it will be.

I wasn’t at all destroyed over it. The not being chosen for my writing was sort of an answer to some recent questions of God.

One in particular, do I just blog and let that be enough?

I don’t know yet.

But, I’m open either way.

Not on the edge about it. I know that God’s intentions for me are always good. I find it brave to believe this.

Wish I’d believed it sooner.

Wish I’d seen the verse with the words “returning and rest” the way my friend explained it.

“Daughter, come back.” is what she told me the prophet Isaiah wrote, as instructed by God.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

My friend is biblically wise and I’d always felt the words about running away felt like chastisement.

She read farther back and told me God is just reminding me rest means closeness and confidence and strength are from staying near.

We talked a little more and we began to share worries over our world, the evil motivations of people and the bravery required to stand strong and speak up about God.

She became quiet. She shared of a high school classmate she’d heard through others had suffered a stroke.

She told me they weren’t close friends, hadn’t run in the same circles way back then.

Using the connection of another former classmate, she contacted the ailing friend and asked to drop off food, say hello.

The stroke victim said no at first and eventually allowed my friend in.

And I’m not sure how many visits there were, if meals were shared or if conversation became natural.

My friend shared that the woman she’d been visiting did not believe in God. She had her reasons.

My friend asked God to keep her alive until she could change her mind about Jesus.

My friend ached for that assurance. She is aching still.

The former classmate died too soon.

Tremendous pain prompted her to get any pill she could get off the street and my friend heard that the stroke victim who said there was no God, died while sending someone a text.

My friend heard later, the pill was tainted, a deadly ingredient added.

I sat and sensed the ache of question. I saw regret in the posture of my friend.

Months passed since the passing until one day in the shower, she longed to know why she’d not been able to help the former classmate believe in Jesus.

She looked over at me and said,

“God said, ‘that was my intention’.”

And the truth of God’s intention for my friend’s friend and for me caused tears to begin slowly.

Peace permeated the space between us.

“So, you have peace about her?” I asked and she nodded.

Then, I smiled and I cried and I told her something I don’t think she knew would be for me.

What that means is that those horrible things that happened to me were not what God intended, the evil just won the battle.

And maybe, just maybe the stuff I longed for that had not happened was not God’s intention for me.

Come back, daughter. Yes, I now see.

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What makes no sense to you if you believe in a God that is good?

My friend found peace when God told her, I was on your team, I was fighting alongside you.

You having more time with her was my intention.

Evil broke in. Broke in too soon.

On earth there is evil.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Heaven, though, is God’s purpose.

Our hope and future.

Come back. Stay near. My grace to you is intentional.

Be brave.

Continue

and believe.

What God intends is good.

Not So Far So Fast

Abuse Survivor, Art, birds, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, curiousity, daughters, doubt, Faith, hope, memoir, Motherhood, obedience, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

I thought of the words to describe myself and two friends last week. I smiled to myself knowing I’d not find these three referenced in my Bible, just an idea maybe of them.

unhurried finds

The words?

Spunk, Dainty and Floundering.

I thought of my friend who goes by “Mel”, of her unwavering devotion to those she loves. I thought of her allegiance to me, although unnecessary. I thought of her sorrow in the aftermath of the untimely death of her husband. I hoped for resilience to remain her strongest quality. I longed to hope she’d rely on the smallest bit of spunk she is known for.

Still, I knew the days ahead would unsteady her. I cried when I told her I couldn’t find the word spunk in my Bible. She listened to me struggling to articulate my lost for words rambling over her loss.

My friend, the merciful one. The one with “spunk”.

Another friend, as gentle as a dove joined me for lunch and we caught up. I shared the decision to publish the children’s book, the journey from looking at birds on walks with my granddaughter to deciding to say “yes” to the commitment for it to become a book.

She listened and faintly smiled, not with excitement, just acknowledging what she knew was significant. I noticed her hands as she listened, diminutive and folded. I thought oh my goodness, she is so dainty.

I wondered later if the word “dainty” could be found in my Bible. I looked and as expected, no mention.

My friend who has much in common with me, an artist, a quiet friend who is longing to see how far life will take her.

She asked me to guess what she’d taken a chance on doing. I gave no answer because she was giddy to tell me.

She told me she’d learned to paddleboard, no idea why, she just decided to try.

I imagine her balanced amongst the other lake people, her petite frame having lots of room on the board but I shook my head and asked, “How on earth did you do it? I guess you must have good balance or strong legs, I could never do it!”

I thought of how I’d always thought of her so dainty, so delicate, not physically strong, more emotionally fit…dainty.

She answered that it is not dependent on your strength or your being able to balance, it is about trusting the board, allowing your body to let the board be in control.

Trust more than skill.

Days ago, I watched my granddaughter pick up and put down her little pink shoe clad feet.

The land that surrounds her home is bordered by paths, some grassy, others a mixture of sand, roots, big rocks and pebbles.

We walk together. I allow her independence with reminders of “careful” or “hold my hand” when her excitement for living causes her to prance ahead and risk tripping on rocks or over her own precious feet.

I bring my hand down to meet her tiny fingers, “Hold grandma’s hand.” I say and she either latches on or with a big girl motion huffs and shoos me away.

I smile. I watch. Soon she turns towards me and finds my hand and then lifts up in a surrender to be carried by me for part of the way.

She is learning independence and accepting assistance, the play of the two.

We walk together. We scamper. We dance. We sing and we gather pretty things, no hurry. No pressure, a rhythm of acceptance, balancing independence and surrender.

Holding accomplishment in one hand and humility in the other.

“Floundering”, the word I assigned to how I’d been feeling, the third word not found in my Bible; yet, the perfect description for my confusion, my unsteady thoughts, my leaning one way and fearing falling or leaning too far the other and tripping over my impatience.

“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Floundering thoughts, death compromised spunk and resilience, and assumptions about the fragility in our feeble dainty frames.

Each of those telling me, steady yourself, your heart, your trust.

Steady now.

Not so far so fast.

Continue and believe.

Turning Towards Better

Abuse Survivor, Art, birds, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Forgiveness, hope, memoir, mercy, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Salvation, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

God has more power than the forces of harm.

This thought became a decision this morning. I woke happily relieved of a restless night that included a horribly realistic dream.

I was pleasantly awakened by the slight sound of “ding”. It reminded me of a whisper, maybe a mama coming close, saying “Sweetie, it’s time to get up.”

Expecting a photo of my granddaughter, I reached for the phone, slid it under the covers so I wouldn’t wake my husband.

Instead of a photo, it was a message from someone who messages me each year a couple of days before my birthday. Each year, the message includes “Toward”.

I open it to enjoy a video of Schroeder from the Peanuts at the piano playing a classical version of the birthday song. Lucy barges in and wants to sit next to him. He says no and she huffs away complaining something akin to creatives needing their space!

I smiled.

I turned towards the glow of morning and opened my palm to give God today, to ask for His guiding.

The birds were uplifting in the tone of their chirping as I sat to journal. This too, I welcomed.

It was time to make sense of the nightmare, time to process it and take what good I could from a vivid story, someone trying to once and for all kill me and me imploring them.

“No, things are better. Things are different.”

I spoke those words to the evil in my sleep.

I woke and remembered the horrible parts along with the prayers I’d prayed just yesterday in my private place.

I’d listened to a podcast about miracles. It stuck with me that we can be bold in our asking; but, first we must let go any unforgiveness.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
‭‭Mark‬ ‭11:24-25‬ ESV

I prayed that way yesterday, forgiving people and forgiving behaviors.

Forgive me for my failures as I forgive those who failed me.

The day continued well and then the inability to sleep followed by the scary reminiscent dream.

I steadied my mind and set my intentions on “toward” as I wrote a note to myself. “What can I take from this?”

In the quiet, God answered.

I have no doubt it was Him.

In the nightmare, my words were clear. I was not silenced by the offender.

I spoke firmly and said. “But things are better, you don’t have to harm me anymore.”

Hearing my own voice was significant, I realized and different than the nightmares of before.

Better is believing God.

Better is believing in my very own prayers, my voice. Better is being confident that God has more power than the forces of harm.

Two separate podcasts and a birthday message sealed the deal of this hopeful conversation between God and me.

A podcast on the Lord’s Prayer reminding me of God as my loving father, a podcast about deciding to be “with” God, a God of miracles in every endeavor.

Both were reassuring of the good God I love and who loves me.

My heart danced with joy when Allen Arnold (author of “The Story of With”) spoke of deciding on a dream with God’s agreement and beginning to flourish.

This was confirmation. This is the story of “Look at the Birds” a soon to be published children’s book about worry. A story God spoke so clearly one morning and then kept speaking, “don’t just let this go.”

But, I almost did. Yesterday, I found a note to myself. I almost gave up on the book. I’d added to my to do list, “just hang the bird paintings in Elizabeth’s room.”

That very day the publishing company called to discuss moving forward. I said “Yes, I’ve decided. I’m ready to publish.”

Knowing that there’s no clear measure of success monetarily or simply the book having readers.

However, the success is in the continuing towards a calling, the creativity of God in me.

The memories of last night’s terror have completely subsided. It’s midmorning and I’m looking forward to an early birthday celebration later. I’m thinking of another heron painting. I’m remembering the prayer I believe.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:25-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God, you have miracles unseen.

I hope you’ll believe this for you.

Look at the birds.

Continue and believe.

Here are the links to the podcasts referenced:

Susie Larson with Addison Bevere

The Thriving Christian Artist with Allen Arnold

Following Well

Abuse Survivor, Art, birthday, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, freedom, hope, memoir, mercy, obedience, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder, writing

This is one of those posts that needs a disclaimer: Memoir type personal plus possibly all over the place rambling, one of those that simply recording it cements the value of it all coming together.

Oh, and about aging and accepting it and not being caught up in regret.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. II Corinthians 4:16

I made a scribbled list of verses that comforted and confirmed my hopeful thoughts. I read a familiar passage, one used to reassure or comfort others after a disappointment, tragedy or just acceptance of unexpected change.

“God will make good of it.” Christians are known to say.

I cried the night before in front of my husband, not a horribly uncontrollable weeping, more a soft release. Tender, it felt.

We were catching up on things, I needed a few minutes of his attentiveness. Earlier, I pulled into the driveway and he greeted me and the only reply I gave was, “That did not go very well at all.”

He asked for an explanation. I said “later” and realized I was worn out from sharing how this unexpected thing made me feel, exhausted over trying to have another person understand my needs, my secrets, my reasons for anxiety.

Psalm 107 caused me to say softly this morning, “Wow”.

I’d found one verse and it fit and then I turned to read the chapter entirely, the one with the header in my Bible, “Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So”.

“Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭107:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I still have things to say, the optimism of this truth met me.

I thought of my years of wandering, most of them not a misleading of my own making, but of being caught up, trapped, lost and to this day surprised to be a survivor.

I paused to pray. I thanked God for keeping me safe, for preserving my life.

Some things have happened in these pandemic panicked days that have triggered me.

Felt similar. There are requirements of this time that remind of control, of powerful demand, of being silenced; the mask I wear as mandated shields me for my health and others yet, reminds of being held down, told not to yell.

Last month, my dental woes began. A bridge that made up for four lost from damage teeth shifted and broke from one tooth that was an anchor.

I stood up in my art room, felt the slight change and it fell into the palm of my open hand.

“Bewildered” is a word my precious cousin used to describe me as a child. At gatherings she says she remembers seeing the expression in my preteen eyes and thinking, bewildered.

I was relieved that someone had seen it.

Here I find myself, a few days from 60 and bewildered again. Having to be reminded of the blows to my face and the hard slaps on my cheek over thirty years ago. The dental surgeon displayed the elaborate 3-D images of the jawline, the place where the cheek makes a little circle when I smile, the place that is now in resting mode as I prefer not to smile due to this gap of only gum because of broken bridge that covered missing teeth.

The surgeon seemed empathic, so I felt I should give an explanation as to why due to past trauma I was not a viable candidate for dental implants.

Why someone who looks pretty okay now at one time was not.

So, I spoke of my past. Soon after, wishing I hadn’t. It was not safe to share. Not that it was taken lightly or not heard, it was not safe for me to hear my own sharing.

It reminded me of being unseen and unheard in my past and deciding to stop asking, to change my expectations.

So, that night my husband sat and I told him how I felt in the dental chair and how the trauma of my past was being reborn and fighting to be thought and overthought. Saying this to him helped.

I cried a little and then decided to change my thoughts. I decided to resist the downward plummet into always a victim.

This is transformation, this intention to be aware of my safety, to begin to see that this is what Paul meant when he wrote all things God makes good.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance and He chose them to become like His Son. Romans 8:28 NLT

I saw this often quoted verse differently. It is not that God wants me to accept that the bad things were bad and somehow I am to accept that they will be made good. It is not that we don’t have sorrow, are expected to hide our longings for our mother and father who died before seeing a grandchild. It is not that we are naive thinking a crisis that leads to pain will magically feel better, be considered a good thing.

No, this passage is about the good that comes with acceptance of the bad and to continue to thrive, to continue to move towards a likeness of Jesus, to decide not to be pulled into misery over trauma, to be intentional in your speaking to your self, “You are safe. You made it and you have so much more making. You have still more story of redemption to tell.”

You can feel it. You are being called towards God’s purpose.

The purpose? Transformation

Your body is aging, shifting, even moving towards failing. All the while your spirit is blooming like a wildflower spread!

You were lost in a sad wilderness long ago. You decided on a different path, there were helpers but you set out at first on your own. You were and remain found!

A blind beggar lingered roadside as Jesus walked by. He and the disciples had just discussed which of the twelve would be most important of all. Jesus did not entertain the conversation as they continued on, only telling them not to be surprised that the last will be first.

The blind man spoke out, shared his plight and asked for mercy. The onlookers told him to be quiet. Jesus heard him and told him to come near. He jumped up from the dirt and went straight to Jesus. Jesus asked him how he could help and the man, blind Bartimaeus told him he wanted to see.

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”  Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. Mark 10:49-51 NIV

There are many stories of healing in the Bible with similar endings, people in need are made well. People who’ve been harmed are healed. People who have been wronged or been wrong receive mercy.

Their faith, our faith has healed us.

And so they move forward in that very faith as followers, not backward glancers filled with regret or question of why and how and what was that sorrow’s purpose anyway?

He brought them out of the darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Psalm 107:14 ESV

Shortly, I will be back in the dental chair. I will begin the process to choose a partial (oh, that word!) over implants and I will accept what seems, feels and sounds so bad is best for me, is better. Better, than I expected.

I am safe. I am well.

I am still following. Continuing and believing.

Made good.

Ask the Questions

confidence, contentment, coronavirus, courage, depression, Faith, hope, mercy, Peace, praise, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, writing

Last week, I asked a question of someone I never thought of asking. I reminded myself of times leading and training others, how I’d tell them if you ask a question, that shows you are committed to learning and it also shows me you’re okay with not knowing as long as you trust that you can learn.

I asked three precise questions to help me with a writing decision and the person who answered, answered with “No problem, that’s what I’m here for”.

And I didn’t think it until today, this lost and listless morning, I should ask God to help me unravel these feelings, this lost exhaustion.

And He did.

“And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭20:32-33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Being honest with God about the empty and boring angst my morning began with led to a gradual shift.

Numb due to the daily same no indication of change because of pandemic, discord and lack of good sleep due to dreams about Christmas, I’m barely moving as I go towards the coffee.

I sit with pen, open my Bible, circle boldly the word “trust” and then add the same letters on the place below my thumb, add a cross where the big nail pierced Him.

Flat, unmotivated, agenda-less and only pending set aside for later ideas kind of days.

I decide fresh air may enthuse me and I see the sunlight on the wild purple flowers.

I find the tomato sweet granddaughter discovered and dropped. It seems a rabbit took a bite out of its side, left it near the porch.

I find the new red bloom on the daisies and I see the geese crossing the road slowly, unconcerned over the big truck lightly tapping a beat with its horn.

The geese take their time, their plans for today are the same as the days before.

I saw the acceptance of rest in all of it. The empty slate day that welcomes restoration in a gradual way, the renewing of my mind, a required reminder.

Today, a summer Sunday perfect for quiet supplication of a clean slate, anxious clutter cleared and a willingness to be okay in the widening expanse of waiting.

These are not days of “finger snap” make all things better.

The realization of this, at first is exhausting. Still, these days that represent dwindling hope are only doors to more trusting.

If I could, I’d go stand in the widest open field I could find secluded from all eyes and I’d open my arms way, way wide.

I’d celebrate a realization.

I trust you, God.

I’d celebrate the change quiet brought me on Sunday morning when I woke so depleted. I’d thank God for answering when I asked for restoration. I’d thank Him for new ideas ready to be followed up on. I would thank him for answering all my questions.

I’d be grateful for the dream that kept me thinking although sleeping, I’d thank God for dreams about Christmas.

Because, Christmas is my favorite.

Thank you, God, for correcting my vision.

“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭18:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Happy Sunday!

Continue and believe.

Live Today

Abuse Survivor, birthday, bravery, confidence, contentment, coronavirus, courage, curiousity, Faith, Forgiveness, grace, hope, love, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

Yet another list I’ve made after completing three little things yesterday. This list is different, a note to self about enduring, about this time as a time for living.

Eternally Valuable Days

  • Mend fences and repair barbed wire barriers and hurts in relationships.
  • Make them stronger by your willingness to work harder, to dig down deep to prevent future toppling.
  • Commit to loving for the long haul, a firm decision.
  • Laugh, it is allowable.
  • Sleep without guilt over long sleeping.
  • Be mindful in your use of time, not mindless.
  • Look up to the wide sky and see the vast possibilities and the actual purpose of you. Open yourself up to it.
  • Look at the birds. Consider the lilies. Fixate upon the ebb and flow of water, the power of the ocean. Go to these places.
  • Endure the delay that comes with the decision to do the big thing that requires simply moving forward.
  • Believe in Jesus. Believe Jesus, not just the idea of Him. Believe.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing,”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A month from today, I turn 60. The truth of that day is accompanied by the truth of that number. Age and learning, age and realizations of time, times remembered and the brevity of time allotted.

I’m on the fence really, a contradiction as usual. On the cusp of beginnings and still surprised by bright ideas.

Still able, still trusting and still willing.

So very willing to discover fully God’s idea of me ordered long long ago that I’ve only see faint peeking in the open door of!

Hopeful, set on hope not fear because of this disgruntled world.

Eternally valuable, I’ll use as my days’ choices.

“A repining life is a lingering death.” Benjamin Whichcote, “Joy and Strength” devotional

The Audacity of Believing

Abuse Survivor, Art, confidence, contentment, coronavirus, courage, depression, Faith, fear, hope, memoir, mixed media painting, painting, Peace, Redemption, rest, Salvation, Trust, Unity, Vulnerability, waiting, writing

After three days with no writing or painting, I returned to my “sanctuary” on Sunday afternoon.

It was as before, it was life giving, the losing track of time and paint on my hands and forehead.

All afternoon, I painted.

I followed my husband’s suggestion. He noticed I was isolating and told me to stop spending so much time in “that room”.

When I did, I thought of other things. Things other than the canvases piling up, other than hopes that seem to have no place to land in this seemingly hopeless land.

I noticed the hardships of others. I paid attention to sorrowful eyes on masked faces. I observed the way we all seem to be walking together reluctantly, like lambs headed for slaughter.

I recalled my work with depression and suicide. I recalled the one thing more important than any other.

The one in need asking for help, and the listener being committed to listening and helping.

I thought of situational depression in comparison to chemical.

I realized, maybe now (I’m not an expert) it makes no difference. Isolation, depression, anger or sullenness, no respecter of persons.

And I revisited my career long reminder.

Be kind. Everyone is fighting a hard battle.

Here we are on another Monday feeling like the never ending mystery of our days.

I turned to Matthew, today marked Chapter 7, about not judging others wrongly, considering their conditions could be yours.

I read ahead, drawn towards a healing story.

Longing to remember the healer, longing to remember the one needing healing.

Wanting to feel touched by another’s story.

This one, a single soul held captive by an ugly disease. He was a leper, one others avoided.

He was brave enough to believe and saw the throng of people along with Jesus descending from the mountain down into the valley where he stayed hidden.

He asked for help.

Jesus listened.

“And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭8:2-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Today, I’ll remember those who are struggling more than most, more than me.

I’ll pray they find a listener, are able to express their pain and that the ears that welcome their anger or dismay, offer a heart and hand of patient compassion.

I pray that I am able to offer the same, whether words or canvas or eyes that smile instead of look away when I meet another seeking soul, a gentle lamb trusting God and in need of healing.

May we find each other in our quest for healing. May we continue to believe in the audacity of believing.

Our Faint Hopes

bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, hope, love, Peace, Redemption, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

“But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭1:33‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A trusted friend with a windowsill full of orchids has told me to let it be.

It will bloom again. I’ve allowed the fallen petals to stay, evidence in some way to me that my orchid will flower again.

One morning, I’ll be greeted by the beginnings of a bloom nurtured from the strong green stem that I’ve kept watered although it does appear hopeless.

If you could see my friend’s orchids, you’d trust in her confidence too.

Today, my guide in the back of my Bible had me start again. Psalm 1 and Matthew 1 along with I Chronicles, the lineage of Jesus.

I added Proverbs 1 because I felt the need for wisdom.

Joseph is met by an angel who assures him being married to a pregnant woman does not mean shame or fear.

Rather, it is a grander thing. It is a conception by the Holy Spirit. It had nothing to do with the humanness of him.

“Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭1:19-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Joseph believed the voice that assured him, God has made you a part of a long ago established promise.

Joseph listened and continued beside Mary.

He was alone, quiet, considering “cutting and running” when he heard a voice he was certain of.

Yesterday, something I thought was wonderful happened to me. A dream come true, evidence of God’s goodness, a blessed thankful answer to a deep longing. A legacy, a book for Elizabeth.

But, I misunderstood. I misread the agreement. I felt stupid, a novice, naive.

And then, I didn’t.

I listened to the Holy Spirit. I turned my attention towards the way forward. I decided to continue, just more informed and learning.

I decided to believe, not yet but soon and surely.

Like the orchid that has been bare for the same six months of dread and pandemic, the strength is in its roots, the up flow of nutrition from the hidden place within.

The leaves are bright green.

The tangle of grey in the pot is getting thicker.

I can’t see any evidence of it, I must trust the uncertainty of my part, watering it.

Much like my confidence in these days. It will topple if I’m overwhelmed by every argument towards dread. I am not capable of keeping my hope if I listen to the voices of fear, conflict, condemnation and death.

I must stay quiet, quiet enough to be reassured by the Spirit of God in me, the voice that says don’t join in the fear.

The voice that gave me the prayer yesterday, a simple one, a request for relief and assurance.

Relief and assurance.

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:9‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Listening to voices other than the voice within me, my “soulmate”, the Holy Spirit leans towards discontent, disgruntlement, dismay over a dreadful next day.

The longing of my heart begs my return to listening intently to my Heavenly Father.

I will listen today to the voice that promises new growth, a flowering of my bitter and often dried up thoughts and hopes.

I will believe.

I will continue.

“Thy longing is the faint response of thy heart to His call.” F.B. Meyer, Joy and Strength devotional

How Long to Possible?

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, curiousity, Faith, hope, memoir, painting, Prayer, Redemption, Teaching, Vulnerability, wisdom, writing

“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭131:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Before I felt the truth of belonging there, I observed the setting. Twice in my life, a very long time ago, it was offered to me, possibility.

The high school art classroom, the teacher who spilled her very own love of painting all over the room, she started my believing.

She was less instructor, more demonstrator of art as a comfort, as a passion. She was evidence of the balm of creativity.

The English Honors professor who was a tiny force of expectation, a petite woman

She refused to accept my errors.

I remember the desk I arrived early to take, first row, third seat back. I hated my poor appearance, I avoided the walking across any classroom.

The room was so small, desks barely able to allow my thick to me frame. Classmates so close, it was uncomfortable to have another’s skin so near. But, my grades categorized me as Honors and I had no idea why, only that this class was significant, I was taken seriously. This exclusive group now included me.

The professor scared the mess of out of me until she convinced me, it was my writing that got me there, that qualified me. Not my parents, not my appearance. My writing was my how.

Four decades in between the idea of belonging and possibility are hard things, heavy losses and other type accomplishments.

Chronicling the years between what could have figuratively and literally killed me, the question of how is not of importance.

The answer of now is the result of believing I belonged in both classrooms and in what life and God knew were my possibilities.

“…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Hope and possibility, words we value so vaguely, minimizing their power.

Think of someone, some thing in your history that pulled you close enough to listen, to believe that tiny voice of ideas and dreams unsought, unfulfilled, set aside would always be there. Then, pick it back up again, unconcerned with how, knowing you’ll treasure the day in the very near future when you decided on the possible.

In us, is the glorious hope of heaven because of Jesus. When we will fully believe, the details of our how are no issue.

Only today will matter, the day of grabbing hold of our set aside possibilities.

I’m linking up with others in a time when the “how” question is heavy and complex. How did we get here? How can we fathom it ever getting better? How can I be a difference maker? I don’t provide answers to things I don’t fully know. I can only hold fast to hope and possibilities and to be more like Jesus in all my encounters.

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: How