The link here is my latest newsletter, a little art talk, book talk, and a little story about wishing I knew another’s story.
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.
Remember, your theme is redemption.
Redemption, not kept to yourself.
Find me on Etsy (LisaAnneTindal)
“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”.
Yesterday I sat in the dentist chair wishing I had music as a buffer, a distraction to help me not think of what the hygienist was thinking about my aging teeth.
Instead, I chose the Psalm again, the 23rd one and I made it a new song.
“Lord you are my shepherd. You are right here beside me and you’ve always made sure I somehow had all I needed.
And sometimes you’ve given me abundantly more, so much more you surprised me.
I think you must know how much I love surprises, love it when someone thinks of something I might love and then there they are, gifting me!
Lord, you’ve been such a giver of gifts for me. You’ve been with me in the scary places I got trapped and the days of sorrow like a tunnel narrow and winding so the light seems it’s not coming.
You’ve helped me out. You’ve given me reason not to be afraid again.
Lord, you’ve displayed the best of me for others to see, displays I’d never create on my own.
You show me off, you don’t let the gifts you made in me stay hidden. You help me see what is possible.
You refill my creative cup over and over like a beautiful feast, I return to the paper, the canvas, the brushes in the jars of water.
And I create quietly and certainly.
Lord, thank you for creating me.
The me I am becoming. The one unafraid to honor you, to be an influence that causes curiosity over Jesus.
The me, deep thinker and no longer bothered by that often misunderstood depth.
You made me this way as if to say, ‘here’s who Lisa is, she’s a keeper!’
Thank you for shepherding me, for being so gentle and wise.
For being sure of me becoming me and for doing so very
“I delight to fulfill your will, my God, for your living words are written upon the pages of my heart.”
Psalms 40:8 TPT
“Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith in me has given you life. Now you may leave and walk in the ways of peace.””
Luke 7:50 TPT
I cried twice yesterday morning. Both times I welcomed the soft tears, both times considered them a sweet acknowledgement of God.
Alone on a dark morning, just before my set destination, I turned off the podcast and tapped “FM” to listen to “Evidence” by Josh Baldwin.
The line I love?
“I see your promises in fulfillment”
I sat alone in the silent house and prayed along with the new meditation on the “Pause” app, the guided prayer I’ve tapped in to about 600 minutes of based on the book I’m now in my second reading of, “Get Your Life Back” by John Eldredge
Two times I welcomed tears before my day had hardly begun. I felt better because of them.
The day was full. It was good and late last night I took mental inventory of it all, all of the promises fulfilled and the ones sure of fulfillment.
My granddaughter and I visited our County library, a first for her. We had the big open room with art on the wall and every other space books on shelves. We settled with a few and then she’d excitedly go for more.
An older lady came in, found a few for herself, smiled at the baby and said “Precious” and the baby lifted her little hand and said “Hey”.
Next on the agenda, a grocery pick up of needed diapers and the person who showed up at the window.
A daughter of a friend, I was happy to see her. She smiled when I told her just how powerful her voice is. I believe she only recently decided to sing. I was moved by her talent shared on social media.
Her mother had asked to purchase a 2021 calendar and then didn’t get back to me. So, I said “Hey, tell your mom to send me her address and she can just use PayPal to pay, I’ve marked them down, just $20 now.”
Then I changed my mind and told her to open the back of my car and just grab one, tell your mother it’s a gift.
She smiled and we headed to pick up our Chick Fil A, the baby still content, taking it all in.
All morning I’d been calling my friend’s pregnancy care center, no answer and I’d hoped to drop off a donation. Oh well.
With our lunch and after lunch plans, we headed for home; but, on the way saw the cars outside Life Choices and decided now they’re here.
In the parking lot, a gentleman turned from the door, confused I guess as to why they weren’t open. I lowered my passenger window and asked.
His eyes met mine, a similar blue with a little more sparkle. He introduced himself as a retired pastor and a friend of the Director and I smiled and said “Me too, I was hoping to drop off a donation.”
I asked if he had someone in his family who might like a calendar. Told him I had lots left over, I guess this year wasn’t the year for calendars and my donation is what I have left of them.
I didn’t tell him what I’d decided, the calendars hadn’t done very well because I was wrong, I wasn’t good enough.
He took a calendar for his adult daughter who had to move back home along with her baby as I explained to him the inspiration for the illustrations.
He offered to pay for it. I said no thanks and we talked a little more about art and the children’s book about to be available. I gave him the big stack of calendars and he assured me he’d deliver them.
His presence of peace for my granddaughter and I was evident as he offered and I accepted his offer to pray.
Last night, I settled down and recalled the day. A thought came, God’s presence was evident. I told myself, remember the times of today, these are the places you should be focused…making art, writing about Jesus, talking about it with others.
I thought of the calendars and how they weren’t successful. I remembered my angst over getting it wrong, the text on the back cover. I’d written a little note telling those who bought the calendar why I loved the passage about the alabaster vase. I referred to the woman who showered her affection on Jesus as immoral and later, for some reason, I decided you were wrong to say that, you’re not a biblical scholar and what if you assumed she was immoral, you just wanted her to be relatable, took liberties with her story to sell your calendar.
My thoughts went back to the God who is critical, not comforting, the one who points out wrong until you’re right enough for grace.
While the baby napped, I read the passage for the day, Luke 7.
The recording by Luke of the woman with the alabaster vase is here and I read from the Passion translation, a Bible I only recently purchased. The words are more vivid, descriptive, different.
Here I am on Wednesday after very good restful sleeping.
The amaryllis bulb I bought as a gift for myself is rich in color, leaning slightly towards the window and I wonder if I sat here all day, would I witness its bloom?
Instead, I’ll conquer a few things peacefully today without hurry. I’ll tackle the tasks that seemed made no difference anyway.
My Tuesday closed with “This Is Us”, the most beautiful depiction of God restoring broken hearts and long held hard sorrow I have ever seen. Tune in if you haven’t.
I’ll see again today and tomorrow the evidence of God’s goodness all over my life. I will not fear and I will not dread. I’ll not decide I’m not worth it.
I will continue and believe in the possibility of victorious days.
In a year that was “novel” in so many ways that robbed our peace, being at peace was my solution, at least my constant reset.
I didn’t and don’t watch the news, I stopped scrolling when something was being proclaimed about Jesus that contradicted what God’s word said. I avoided conflict and although I shared my opinions and beliefs at times, I ended up realizing people who disagreed would counter with comments that hurt.
At some point, I decided that people who disagreed and spoke up were just trying to maintain control. I mean, in a year that meant so little control, being ticked off and being outspoken was, I suppose the one thing many people could control.
But, in conversations with others, only just one or two, I kept going back to “being at peace, so that I can be peace for others.” And I learned this was something impossible on my own.
Today, the last day of 2020, God brought it all together. Peace is accepting your present knowing God is protecting you from being damaged emotionally by revisiting your past, saving you from stepping back into it, and trusting that He knows your tomorrow, that your future is providentially good, better than you could create without Him.
So, be at peace in your present. Look for evidence in nature, happenstance and the faces of those you love that say…Jesus is here.
“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”
Isaiah 30:21 ESV
Thank you for encouraging me this year. Be certain of one thing, the things God tells me to share here quite often astound me! Also, feel like way “too much Lisa”.
Still, someone needs peace too, otherwise God wouldn’t give me words about it.
Happy New Years Eve, be at peace.
Continue and believe.
Think less of what you didn’t accomplish, follow through to completion and more on the things that surprised you as givers of peace picked for you.
I love a vignette! Here’s the third word in the trio of “yearly words”
Makes sense although it feels mostly only like “I hope so.”
Tying up the words, “hopeful2019” and “endurance2020” with a stronger faith, one I’m cooperating with towards “victorious2021”
A victory that has no lofty goals, only peace.
I’m certain God is intentional. On Monday, I believed this. My body tight and my soul sullen, I bundled up to walk.
My pace is swift I’ve been told. There’s motion in my movement, I swing my arms. I reckon there’s a rhythm in my ample hips. I walk on. It has its benefits.
I exited the trail onto the last cul de sac. The yellow leaves fluttering from the trees, adding to crunchy cushion under my feet. I turned the curve and a leaf affixed itself to my sleeve. I smiled and walked on.
“I’m with you.” I was certain of the message, the brilliant interruption. Around the bend and back uphill, the brittle yellow leaf lingered despite my pace. It wanted to be seen, it wanted my acceptance of its message.
“God is everywhere. Don’t forget to notice.” me
It’d been months since I jotted that sentiment, a long stretch of days just walking to let go worry and angst. God said “See me, I see you.”
“You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
Yesterday, I walked again. Accompanied by my daughter and her daughter, the baby in her wagon all dressed in pink and her mama matching, her cap was pink.
We talked about Christmas, talked about random things.
Then my daughter looked at her child and shared a little story.
Sitting outside or walking I can’t recall, my daughter said a giant yellow leaf cascaded down from a tree and in front of the baby’s face before resting at her feet.
My daughter said she told her, “Look at that beautiful leaf, Elizabeth, just for us from God”.
And then together they gave thanks, the baby and her mama said,
Thank you, God.
I imagined her sweet little toddler tone. I remembered my yellow leaf of Monday. I knew then, why I didn’t settle down and write about it and then yesterday I knew again.
Now I know. Now I know.
You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past.
With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me.”
Psalms 139:2-5 TPT
On this evening before Christmas, I pray your pace is slowed enough to notice.
To notice your path even though exhausted or uncertain is fully known and most of all, I hope God sees you, you see God and that you hear Him comforting you with the sweetest tone of all, the words,
“The pace of peace is easy, it’s slow, it’s me with you as you go. Come back, daughter. Walk with me.”
Merry Christmas friends!
Peace is a promise God keeps. Remember this with me.
I sat with one last piece of watercolor paper in the pad, a pencil sketch of a woman’s face I had started was faintly there, not completely erased.
I added oval shapes of angel faces, a few more realistic and scattered to give an idea of angels all over the page, floating above the baby Jesus with his mother, Mary in the corner.
I’d had a moment earlier when a friend wrote about the “multitude” of angels and I couldn’t stop myself from the thought
Could it be? It seems so unbelievable, there are angels, they are real and as much as I prefer not to borrow a song’s lyrics, “there are angels among us.” (The band, Alabama)
And now I’m inspired again. It’s just that simple, no it is splendid, this new fervor.
My beliefs in such things mysterious to me are easy to hold as hope and not as reality.
Someone used the word “resplendent” in a message contrasting their feelings and faith as tender and yet, resplendent.
What a beautiful word, an adjective meaning brilliant, shining, impressive or magnificent.
I again thought of that unbelievable night, the night that Jesus was born.
I am thinking now of its significance.
The significance of seeing and believing in a way that is so much more than a poetically written ancient story of a mysterious man born to a young virgin.
The weight of believing or not. Faith that is not fiction.
“Redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus must be considered fact, a deeply personal unwavering belief, otherwise that very gift of mercy, redemption will never be fully experienced, only vaguely hoped for.” me
So, I cradle the ceramic baby in a basket and I see it more than decoration, I see it truly, fully.
An old man in the Bible, Simeon had been waiting for the prophesied Messiah. He met Jesus with his parents and he worshipped, praised, and acknowledged.
“Lord and Master, I am your loving servant, and now I can die content, for your promise to me has been fulfilled. With my own eyes I have seen your Word, the Savior you sent into the world. Simeon cradled the baby in his arms and praised God and prophesied, saying:
He will be glory for your people Israel, and the Revelation Light for all people everywhere!”
Luke 2:28-32 TPT
An elderly woman named Anna, both had been waiting their whole lives to see the Jesus their God had promised.
“While Simeon was prophesying over Mary and Joseph and the baby, Anna walked up to them and burst forth with a great chorus of praise to God for the child. And from that day forward she told everyone in Jerusalem who was waiting for their redemption that the anticipated Messiah had come!”
Luke 2:38 TPT
Resplendent, the aged faces of these two must have been, like the sight on that angel and starry filled night of Jesus’s birth.
Resplendent were the colors, brilliant and vivid on another evening, the rich reds of the Son of God’s blood covered body, the darkest daytime night before the curtain was torn and God illuminated for all the reality of what occurred, a death for our sins, the reality of God’s offer of mercy. A vivid scene that must be believed and remembered.
Many doubted, many still do, honestly admitted needing proof.
“Then, looking into Thomas’ eyes, he said, “Put your finger here in the wounds of my hands. Here—put your hand into my wounded side and see for yourself. Thomas, don’t give in to your doubts any longer, just believe!”
Then the words spilled out of his heart—“You are my Lord, and you are my God!” Jesus responded, “Thomas, now that you’ve seen me, you believe. But there are those who have never seen me with their eyes but have believed in me with their hearts, and they will be blessed even more!”
John 20:27-29 TPT
I suppose the choice is up to us, us earthly people. We can choose to believe or not.
A life of faith only faintly evident or one fully committed, resplendent!
Thankful today for the angels, the believers, the doubters like me.
Very surely grateful for redemption, for mercy unmerited, for grace.
Thankful for words and the peace of mind, presence of the Holy Spirit gently nudging my using them.
Continue and believe. He’s not finished with you yet.
Someone said we shouldn’t have a bucket list if we believe in Jesus, believe in heaven.
Made sense, the whole reality of the mysterious truth of eternity, incomprehensible, some might say fantastical idea of God’s original plan, perfection.
That was a relief at least for me, me who’s never flown. I don’t possess a passport and have zero income except the occasional art purchase and a tiny retirement check.
In case you’re curious, it’s Italy.
Someone else reminded me of counting my many blessings, naming them one by one, noticing things, noticing God. I can do this again, a practice to revisit.
Golden leaves on my headlight lit path
One golden leaf spinning down
A sky sprinkled with stars
A leftover cheese straw wrapped prettily
Watching Elizabeth waking up and talking to her crib friends
Walking together, saying “Hey” to the sunshine and our shadows
Several birds, very small flying upwards into the sky blue sky
Elizabeth sitting all dainty in her chair ringing her little Christmas bell, her smile, pure glee
The sunrise just now and birdsong causing me to go see where they’re nesting
Calming babies holding them close on their first grandparent visit
Listening to adult conversations between children and not adding my two cents, just being enthralled by their wellness, their voices, by them.
Waking up to rain on Thanksgiving and deciding it makes sense, 2020 and all
Stepping out anyway, my eye noticing the puddled up drop on the magenta rose
Clouds like puffs
Finding my children’s baby stuff
Not ruining the steaks or letting the bottoms of the cookies burn
I could go on, the infinite list, none of it “bucket”.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about mercy or grace, about God.
I wonder if I’m qualified at all.
I’ll wait and see and continue to listen.
Continue and believe.
I’m not listless after all.
“You can pass through his open gates with the password of praise. Come right into his presence with thanksgiving. Come bring your thank offering to him and affectionately bless his beautiful name! For the Lord is always good and ready to receive you. He’s so loving that it will amaze you— so kind that it will astound you! And he is famous for his faithfulness toward all. Everyone knows our God can be trusted, for he keeps his promises to every generation!”
Psalms 100:4-5 TPT
So, I began again.
I thought of heaven again this morning, thought of the spectacular mystery just like faith, like hope, intangibles.
Invaluable treasures, the list I’m returning to
The smell of sausage in the kitchen
The thrill in the voice of a child over Christmas and drinking from a Santa mug instead of sippy cup
The sound of frenetic keyboard tapping as my son, home all week but a professional, passionate about his work, working.
A gift for no reason, a luxurious blanket that brought security, represented love
My husband’s announcement as he comes down the hall, “another beautiful day”.
Day 27 of my thankfulness notes:
Thankful for God’s grace.
Linking up with other bloggers here: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2020/11/26/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-grateful/
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.