The subject line in the email was “I Wrote a Book”, and I attached a bio with background, art and a few words expressing I hoped the recipient and her family are well.
I’m remembering now my first years working with homeless families. She was our emcee and it was one of best fundraisers in history. Her beauty, poise and sincerity added to the success.
Over the years, she remained engaged with our agency and I had many opportunities to talk about tough things on her show.
This would be different. I “go by Grandma” now.
The morning of the Skype call, I moved slowly towards the time, I arranged the room and realized there’d be a toddler nearby. I thought of canceling. Instead, we talked about it, my granddaughter and I.
I moved her coloring pad and crayons to her parents’ bathroom. I changed from my uniform (exercise leggings and T-shirt) to a blouse in my daughter’s closet.
My granddaughter stood beside me as I curled my hair and then added mascara, blush, etc.
The interview began and she played with her “babies” close by.
I was worried about Skype, about the wrinkles on my neck, about my hair because my daughter had no hairspray, about talking too fast or too slow, or too much.
And some of these things are evident in the interview.
More evident though, is the graciousness of Jennie Montgomery, the peace God gave me, the joy over art and more than anything at all.
The surprise of my own voice as I spoke clearly of being loved by God.
The legacy I hope this book leaves, Lisa Anne Tindal is both strong and vulnerable,
“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” Psalm 107:2
The spaces I created for newsletter and blog share the word “redemption”. The idea was to share the gift of a closeness with God over time and to write honestly about it.
To embrace redemption as my theme, my guide, my breath of life.
1. the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.
Last month, and the ones before, I wrote mainly about art. I didn’t write redemption stories. Either I stopped believing in them or I felt I’d shared enough. I wrote and illustrated a book, I shifted my sharing to self-promotion. I was told it’s what I’m supposed to do.
It’s mostly an inside job, this enemy I fear called control.
I still get triggered by the mask. Lately, the shame of my “for now” decision against the vaccine is a causing ugly looks and a sense of judgment from others, all leading to isolation, a less obvious trigger.
If you understand, you understand. Otherwise, it makes no sense why you may think things that are not true.
I dreamt last night of bruises on my arms from being held down. My dream me disguised the bruises, made excuses to others about their cause.
I woke and shook off the thoughts, said to myself that is not true anymore.
Nobody held you tightly in their control, you are safe. You are not controlled by others.
Again, this won’t make sense unless you’ve known it.
Many of us fight an internal battle against control, decisions made for you.
We move closer to wholeness when we know peace comes with making decisions with God, quiet ones on your own.
We trust that tiny voice that’s God saying now you have the strength to speak up for yourself, to know your help is from me most of all, it is where you find rest.
Where your trust becomes unwavering faith.
“Faith over Fear” becomes
“Trust over Dread”.
It is awareness of the much to dread, not a whole lot of looking forward to happy according to all we’re told of our country’s condition.
It sort of feels silly to long for things. Some unexpected illness, sorrow or tragedy may knock on your front door or you’ll hear of another injustice and see the hearts of mankind broken and the trend towards true change a bigger obstacle than before.
This is why I’m building up my trust reservoir.
I’m remembering what never runs out, never says I’ve nothing more, never abandons my tender tired heart in need.
It is God’s love and grace.
I wrote 3 words in my journal today. All are distractions to my connection with God.
Then, I added. “Pay attention to the way you approach life.”
Are you dreading the future? Has your hope been stolen? How is it that you know God and believe in Him, have for a bunch of years; yet, you don’t trust as much anymore?
Are you apathetic, exhausted?
Is it because you can’t be sure what life will be like where you are headed or because you’re afraid you won’t look at all like the person you hoped to be next year.
If you feel (with good reason) it is unlikely life will be any better, it is likely you’re incapacitated by dread.
1. great fear or apprehension
If you have the Bible app, search “dread”. You’ll find God’s conversations with Job, the words of Jesus and other gentle warnings about how it’s not God’s idea for us.
“but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.””
Proverbs 1:33 ESV
My granddaughter was teeny tiny when I first sang “Deep and Wide” to her. Her newborn expression was attentive and calm, enthralled.
“Deep and wide
Deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.”
There is a fountain for us. It won’t dry up, parched by sun or heat.
The river is grace.
It is wide and deep.
It is deep and wide.
Continue and believe,
Trust over dread.
Be attentive to God’s voice in your thoughts.
There’s nothing to fear when we trust God as the maker of our days, the lover of our souls.
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.
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.
I’ve removed the fifteen or more books from my nightstand.
Some of them read, some recommended, others opened and skimmed and set aside.
I’m hard on myself as a reader. I’m distracted and mostly too sleepy. They say a writer must be a reader.
Maybe that’s why I’m less afraid to paint.
To simplify. The nightstand now has one framed photo, a lamp, a pen with paper and a paperback collection of Psalms and Proverbs.
“How he satisfies the souls of thirsty ones and fills the hungry with all that is good!” Psalms 107:9 TPT
I’ve taken to the practice of reading at least one verse as soon as I’m settled in bed.
Some nights more. I thumb to the passage chosen by the date and the pages from notes compiled through the years are becoming my sedation, my self-help.
There are pencil scratches, black or blue ink faded to soft grey. There are bold underlines and tiny little star asterisks in places.
The summary of supplication, of suffering questions, or redirection of myself in an achingly sorrowful way.
Remorse, regret, confusion and occasionally a determined commitment to peace, the words warn, these are best kept secret.
Much like Job may have felt, I imagine if he sat with the pages that detailed his friends calling out his wrongs and his reply incessantly saying,
But, none of this makes sense. Why me?
I feel like Job was just that honest.
If you find your old journal or Bible, do you find your honesty to be hard or do you see it as simply honest?
Do you see how far you’ve come or are you hard on yourself that some days you still hurt to comprehend some things?
I fell asleep with a revelation the other night.
I’d read my prayers scrawled in the old book. Concerns so very intimate that only God and I knew and know the reasons.
I realized I had such a yearning for God back then.
I realized I still do.
The thought of my laments and longings documented with pencil or pen gave me a new idea, a different peace.
I was a seeker. I still am.
My soul ached with yearning.
It still is.
I decided it is a good thing to be still yearning, to not be satisfied in who I’ve become, to be certain God’s still what my heart yearns for and the goodness of His gifts to me, to my family, beauty made of so many hard things.
The words to a song you won’t hear on the radio seem to pop up on my Pandora quite often lately.
I drive the morning road, make it to the hill and curve on the dirt one and I slow my arrival because it happens!
The voice of Paul Beloche, so gently and assuredly reminding me of all the beauty God has made of my life already.
She gave a helpful list with one thing being to ask yourself at the end of the day,
“Where did I see God today?”
Naturally, I loved this, it’s might kind of deep thinker thing.
Tuesday was a “grandma day”. It was so sweet and easy and it was a gift the way the simplicity of the day fell into place.
We sat together in the cool castle building dirt spot. To pass the time ‘til Mama drove up, I taught the baby to sift sand from one hand to the other. Teaching maybe the wrong word, I just did it and she followed.
From one hand to the other we just passed the sand between our hands. She looked up, longer than usual, looked deeply into my eyes in a way that said, “This is sublime.”
Yes, this was when I saw God.
God with us.
Heaven met earth and situated itself with us in the Springtime dirt.
Yearning for me not to miss such a beautiful moment on a blue sky day.
And I didn’t and I pray I don’t from now on.
“Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” Hebrews 7:25 NLT
Lord, may our earthly days cause our longing for you more every day even as we yearn for the incomprehensible promise of heavenly days promised by you.
It’s become the norm for me to wake with a lyric or a verse. I know the song and it sets my tone. I open my Bible app and search for the verse if other thoughts don’t get me off course.
The promise of today is bright sunshine and the Labrador returns with the ball jammed into his cheek. I step outside and decide just a couple of tosses. It’s still too cold, early Friday morning.
He’s satisfied and so am I. I turn to go inside, my feet numb from the cold hard ground and I see the beauty of what seems to be an overnight changing to green.
I find myself wondering if God is aware. Of my waking on a Friday morning after sleeping hard from unacknowledged exhaustion.
Did God know I’d wake up with the words to a song by J.J. Heller, “You Already Know”? (Yes, I adore her.) Did God know I’d be standing barefoot and I’d listen to Him reminding me of the dangers of comparison?
Does God know how many blades of grass surround my feet? Is he aware of every rain drenched fallen camellia? I believe so.
“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:30-31 ESV
We are important to God. Courage and trust are the evidence of our embracing this as belief.
Hagar, a pregnant mistress in the Old Testament, used by others to fulfill a longing, felt abandoned, rejected, unnecessary. She longed to escape the bitter condemnation of Sarah. She fled into the wilderness.
God met her there. He pointed out the water she’d been thirsting for.
I wondered this morning if she’d been standing near the flow of water and couldn’t hear it or if she’d become so worried, afraid, confused and maybe angry over how her life’s direction had pointed towards self-destruction, that she couldn’t see the provision of God waiting there.
So, God pointed it out. She was changed by seeing that she’d been seen herself.
“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”” Genesis 16:13 ESV
In a few weeks, a children’s book illustrated and written by me will be available. I may have chances to share its backstory, a story I only recently realized but God already knew.
“Look At The Birds” is a book born of talks with my granddaughter about birds and talks between God and me about worry, worth and trust.
It’s a book with a mission of helping children understand their value is determined by Jesus and no one or no place else.
It’s a message God longed for me, the wife, the mother, grandmother, the author, the artist, to begin to finally embrace.
There’s an odd tree near my home. Its branches are grey and twisted and it half stands half reclines in an empty lot.
It is solitary with only tiny tender pines trying to begin their lives nearby, bright green fan like needles on the skinniest of branches.
I’m not an arborist. I know this tree is old, “gnarly” comes to mind. It has pods of some sort and pale white tiny blooms in the Spring. I’ve yet to see it produce a nut or fruit. It still has a few crinkly leaves furled and scattered.
It has lingered long.
Planted in the empty lot or the lot owned by someone and long neglected.
A decade or so ago I began to notice, this leaning tree keeps staying, fascinating me. It is steady although it has no real reason, not attended to by anyone other than God’s good rain and sun.
I’ve just gotten word from a gallery telling me thanks for your submission, our walls are full.
We have enough for display.
I downgraded from a website for my art to Etsy. The decision surprised me with the ease, and the peace, the still today peace is keeping me.
The desire to be an artist feels like an ache, a wound that keeps reminding you to take it slow, slow movements bring lasting health and renewed fervor.
This I know. The change is internal. I am being refined. I am growing. I know because this time, I have told this change, welcome, come on in, stay a bit.
A crazy thing happened on Sunday morning. I heard a sound above my head and thought, an animal in the attic…a big one. At last, I’d convince my husband and he’d believe me, those squirrels are living above our bed.
Later, I went to make the bed and discovered branches curled against my window. The pretty poplar tree had been uprooted by nature and leaned in a precarious way against our home.
Home alone, I walked out in rain boots and pajamas to see the bulbous root upturned and the trunk resting against a patio table. The discarded table saved our windows and our roof. The tree is now cut into pieces by our sweet son in law and only debris remaining.
I am wondering what caused it to fall.
Today, I read a passage in a devotional referencing a verse about being refined.
I will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. Zechariah 13:9
I thought of what it means to be refined, how I’d always equated being refined with having more polish, more finesse, what had been started becoming a final result that stood out from the rest. To be refined would feel as close to perfection as possible, a pleasing object to gaze upon, a showpiece worthy of applause.
I know the metaphor of life’s trials and traumas being a symbol of the fire of the silversmith, the heat melting the substance so that it shines smoothly.
I’m realizing it’s not about shining, the refining God wants us to understand and allow.
It’s an inside transformation, a change in our souls that leads to changes in mindsets and goals.
A change maybe we and God only know.
To be refined, all impurities are removed from a substance, it becomes internally pure.
A Canon named George Body, born in 1840 describes it this way,
“His loving eye is ever eagerly watching for the moment when the purifying work is done. Then, without a moment’s delay, He withdraws the fire, and the purified soul is removed from the furnace. See, again, it is when the image of Christ is reflected in us, so that He can see Himself in us as a mirror. Raise your eyes, then amidst the flames, and see the Face of Jesus watching you.” George Body
Stand like the old tree, stronger because of the nature of its own depth and fiber and because of the refining hand of God.
The strength is inner, the strength that was brave when it said call yourself an artist.
Keep it quiet. Keep it confident. Keep it grounded.
“The blind see again, the crippled walk, lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised back to life, and the poor and broken now hear of the hope of salvation!” Matthew 11:5 TPT
Today I read the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the wayward son who lost his way and was welcomed back home again. The one sheep among hundreds was important. The one coin found after hours of sweeping and searching was treasured and the prodigal son who stumbled back home certain of his unworthiness was celebrated.
I thought how easily I decide I’m unseen, that God has forgotten me, has either decided I’ve come as far as I can or that I’m now completely on my own.
Instead, like the one silver coin of ten, when God sees me finding Him again, it’s a joyous celebration.
I love to think about such small things, enlightenment from my Bible I may have missed before.
Like the one line in Matthew 11, “the poor and broken now hear the hope of salvation!”
I needed to hear this, my spirit weak and broken over dreadful thoughts and speculations.
My heart and my mind, fixed again, my broken spirit repaired.
“He heals the wounds of every shattered heart.” Psalms 147:3 TPT
Now hear of hope.
Circle back and sense it. Go outside. Notice the breeze, gaze at what feels like nothing to find something broken or fallen, discarded.
Gather it up in your hands. Hold it. Find it and remember you are found by God when you quietly allow it.
Keep what you find, be joyful over being found.
I’m joining others in writing, prompted by the word “Fix”.