31 Days, Freely – Close

Life and God are in constant intersection.

Places you find yourself standing other than you planned and in locations you’ve become accustomed to, you are close to God, when you take stock of forgetting and finding again, what is there.

You meet a little lady by mistake who is tiny like your grandma, neat as a pin like her and she smiles and forgives you for ringing her doorbell, going to the wrong address, she tells you she wishes you’d stop back by.

And you think, now if that’s not God, I have no idea what it is.

To see your grandma when you needed her kind of gentle assurance, yes, that was God!

Being close to God, being where He wants me to be and doing what He wants me to do.

With my being mama, wife, executive, writer, painter, friend and follower.

These are things I will know clearly and eventually, adjustments like shadows of color to accentuate an angel’s waist or taking away a showy word to be simple, succinct.

It is work. It’s okay, though. God is in it.

Never an anxious seeking, always a contented watching unexpectedly yet ever hopeful wait.

I heard the geese and thought “Here they come.”, the acknowledgment of my mama, her words when she heard them.

I slowed my steps as the V shape turned away and then smiled and watched as they turned back my way.

It was a small thing, to see geese fly over and remember my mama.

Remember God’s pattern.

I forget and I forge ahead making mental and pencil note of things to try, challenges I should continue and I take some off the list, cross through their name, thick leaded takeaway, giving myself permission to let that one go.

To keep taking small, deliberate steps and to know that when I jump in to pressuring myself to join in, to hurry up and finish or to feel afraid I might not catch up,

That’s anxiety talking, that’s fear and I feel it in the place that the counselor noticed my trauma liked to dwell.

Noticing now, let that go,

That will not serve you well.

Be still.

You are close now, close to what God wants you to know.

He is close.

We are His work.

“The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭111:7-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Closing out 31 Days with some sermon notes from myself:

Write bravely.

Write from small sweet experiences.

Try not to veer back to pitiful.

Recognize when you do.

Write what you’ve been avoiding.

Follow through.

Notice God’s answers in your day.

Pay attention, you’ll know clearly, what to say, what to paint, what to write and

Where to go.

God is everywhere. Don’t forget to notice.

31 Days, Freely – Voice

Yesterday, I listened differently. One voice I heard was as smooth as the cream in my coffee and deliberate in its pauses. She waited between words. I got the impression that every syllable was special.

I joked and told her she should give training, her voice was so pleasant to hear. She explained it was just Southern and I answered well, I’m just as southern as you.

We were helping someone, one voice on the phone and the two of us trying to listen in light of emergent need. I wanted to ask hard questions, scold missteps in my concern for her condition.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

‭‭James‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Instead, I watched and waited and tried to line my parts up in the conversation with what she might receive as compassion not concern.

Her voice was quiet and it wavered. It was sure and then it was scared. It was willing and then it wished it had not spoken.

I listened as my colleague offered coffee and then calmly led her to talk about her boys, then at just the right moment as I turned to tell her, she voiced her agreement with me, assuring the young mother.

You can get back to the place of okay.

We saw her smile, softly repeat our belief using her voice and repeat it again, believing, I believe,

She will get there again,

Back to

The place of okay.

‬‬

31 Days, Freely – Song

waking thought today, October 28th…

“Jesus, lover of my soul”.

From some other worldly type place the thought came, these words I repeated in thought, two, three, a few or several times, uncertain of them being verse of a Psalm or a song.

The sun is pretty just now, the way it shadows my stack of morning table stuff.

I google the phrase and discover it is a song, an old hymn I must’ve flipped past in the thin pages, seeking backdrops for angels.

I open my journal to read what I wrote earlier, before church or anything at all.

Realizing my faith is a persistent faith, more persistent than resistant and that little things are happening, being evidenced in my soul.

Gradually sticking, this relationship of grace.

There could be no other explanation for waking up to the words of a song.

I must be getting closer to His spirit. It can be the only explanation – every morning I’m thinking of God and I’m not yet or quite yet awake.

Waking up with words like Jesus being the lover of my soul.

What a beautiful song!

What a beautiful

song.

31 Days, Freely – Whole

I kept working because I wanted to finish what I’d begun, I suppose.

Only partially complete, it would have maybe worried me all day as to what the ending might be, I needed to finish.

I needed to treasure the whole thing, the pleasant dream that blessed me with blissful sleep past seven.

Oh, joy, I’ve slept til almost nine!

I dreamt I was living in my grandma’s house and it was all mine, the whole place.

It was standing tall and mine for the taking, for the living.

The room across the tiny hall from my grandma’s room, it was exactly the same as before.

The hall, like a bridge we were warned not to cross, just a little hollow place between, its occupants, the phone on the wall and the gas heater caused crowded passing through to the little bathroom congregating.

I was there again and I could hear the long clangy echo of a ring and my grandma answering to talk to maybe my mama, my aunt or one of her sisters.

She’d pull the long curly cord around the corner so she could see. She’d talk a long time sometimes.

But, it was mine in my dream, the whole place, last night. The place not standing now was there for me.

So, I set my mind on fixing up my granddaddy’s room, the one that seemed such a secret, his “Chester” drawers all piled with loose coins, papers and cigars, I started and I cleared and cleaned and made it fresh, different than before, a place to lie down and rest, inviting and bright.

A place I’d been afraid to pass through, it was mine to make new.

To make whole.

31 Days, Freely – Moment

Prompted, on this day 26 of 31 to write briefly (I’ll do my best.) on the word “Moment”.

Sometimes I’ll take a moment to be sure I’m correct in my understanding of the meaning of a word, or look for the definition to broaden my perspective.

I took time just now to understand “abide” because I always lean towards it meaning something like living some place or staying put and settled somewhere.

It may be that I think it’s a relative to the word abode.

No idea.

a·bide
/əˈbīd/
verb

accordance with, uphold, heed, accept, go along with, acknowledge, respect, defer to

Yesterday, I met someone who began a conversation with questions of me from the other side of a table. The room was filled with women and the bustle of many conversations.

She asked me about my choice of the phrase “quiet confidence”, eventually moving to sit beside me. We talked. We laughed and we connected.

We were interested in each others’ stories from the moment we connected.

This morning, I’m remembering how I told her it can awkward for me to have an intimate and complimentary conversation, to receive positive and powerful feedback from another.

It’s as if it’s a challenge for me to agree with another’s words that are good if they’re about me.

She said something I loved when I told her I don’t like to introduce myself as an Executive Director, it sounds so lofty, so unappealing to me, doesn’t sound like who I ever wanted to be.

She smiled and told me to accept it, to be in agreement with God’s decision to place me in a place to lead.

This morning I’ll think of it as abiding with God in his decisions to bring me to a place of leading. I’ll abide in my executive role and demonstrate my confidence because of God’s confidence in me.

Moment by moment, I’ll abide, be in agreement with God as I carry out my role in His world.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I met someone yesterday who gave me an unexpected gift. I’ve decided to accept it, acknowledge her assessment of me.

Linking with others here:

FMF – Moment

31 Days, Freely – Capture

I’ve never seen such a pretty place as the porch that welcomed me this evening to my daughter’s home.

Now, I thought of taking a picture; but, it would be lost on most everyone.

A vignette of pumpkins resting on a bench, large lively fern and cushion sitting softly in big and sturdy rocking chair.

The way she can take a little something space and make it big something spectacular.

So pretty, my words fail and my description, to capture her ways, her simply splendid style.

I got the dogs all excited and situated and since I skipped boot camp I set out to make some laps around the big open farming field.

The dogs were confused, corralled and cavorting. I made another lap and rounded the corner to be met by the sky.

I’d decided beforehand it wouldn’t be so amazing, cloud cover and cold.

But, the sun found a low place and it decided I’ll settle down here.

“And God saw that it was good.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

So, I forfeited the made up workout of cardio for the perch on the porch and I did my best to capture what’s too spectacular to know, to keep.

The sky, the sun, the stuff of me showing up in my child’s decorative ways.

More amazing than words, more beautiful than we can ever know.

31 Days, Freely – Brief

No wonder I don’t want to leave, my morning time with God is always too brief.

This morning God told me,

Be brave.

It’s like He truly has me and He wants to keep me here, wants me to really know His keeping.

Yes, my morning time is too brief, I’m getting stronger at taking it longer into my day.

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Because I slept well and long, my meet the day prayer today was brief.

The feeling followed me down the hall, the regret of my request.

I asked God for “opportunities” and chastised myself no sooner than the thought became a conversation. Thinking,

Oh, sorry let me take that back…I’ve already had enough and haven’t done so well with them.

I barely made it to the Keurig before I changed my perspective.

I remembered my pattern.

God reminded me.

When I don’t write or when my writing is rejected, I immediately believe it has nothing to do with my skills or my content; but, everything with my worthiness.

Viciously sensitive and cyclical is the dilemma of my endeavor. I will return once again, maybe this afternoon to the old desk where words have been written, pieces and parts and starts, because I heard God this morning.

His reply was quick.

Five words,

You have to write bravely.

Pointing me away from the obligatory or copycat attempts to be one of those women who write and towards Him and yes, back to me.

Back to brave.

Back to the story that won’t let go.

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I bet you have a thing like that, a thing God told you was for you, the treasure you believed was there, slowly began to believe Him enough to dig it up.

Maybe you were afraid your treasure might not be treasured or that you’d be insufficient in your conveyance of just how glorious your God is for giving you the ability, the opportunity,

The unabashed bravery to pursue it!

Yeah, that’s the thing mostly. Something that God has told you is this huge a chance, a calling…oh, you don’t want to be responsible for it being any less.

I ramble, I get pitiful.

Forgive me. I’m surely no victim!

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What we see as hard, God sees as worthy of our doing.

What we see as unlikely, God sees as possible.

What we see as unexpected of our accomplishing, God sees as brave and intentional daily, momentous surrender.

We must be brave or we’ll never be fully seen, He will never be fully seen through us!

We must tell whole stories, not just give hints or glimpses of our rescue and redemption.

Otherwise, how will others know the story behind the things we say, the little expressions we throw out?

Afraid of telling the entirety of before.

One I’m prone to declare quite often…

Not me, but you Lord.

Jesus in me, showing through me, inviting others to have to the same hope of glory.

Glory, as in eternal life, a heavenly home.

I only hint at what that means, fully surrendered and cooperative, obedient to His plan.

I’ve no idea why this seems scary, why I must be brave.

It should come as easy as breathing and last way longer than my morning coffee.

It must surely be the most perplexing thing an uncertain or nonbeliever sees,

The meandering missteps of a believer. We’re confident and then we’re not or we’re complete and then complacent.

Yet, it’s that reality that tells our story, the recognition that we struggle, we’re not able on our own.

It’s also His mercy that sets our stumbling back on track, is kind in the giving grace for our once again, beginnings to see.

That we’re good and close to God every morning and day by day that closeness and that light go longer and brighter through our days and into our nights.

We press on even though the fear remains, we hear the voices of doubt saying stop…don’t go.

But, we hear the other.

We become good listeners and we hear The Father saying,

Bravely, bravely.

Now, go!

We get up again and we, with Him, bravely go!

Some time ago, a speaker suggested we read from beginning to end and again and again, the Book of Philippians.

My Bible is evidence of the difference it made, Paul’s personal expressions of the importance of humility, of loving Christ fully, being lights in our world, being brave communicators of the life and death of Jesus, of our lives changed because of His.

“Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He’s not finished with me yet. Brandon Heath

31 Days, Freely – Common

4:30, 4:30, 4:30!!!!

The blaring bong of bell, he stops it and I want to say you could have gone without.

Your wife could have just told you so, quietly and matter of factly, it’s 4:30.

Last night, I prayed the ABC’s 3 times, 78 letters lined up, mostly spontaneously and my prayers had a bend towards gratitude.

Not the same old worry, the correspondence God knows so well of me.

My brain must have been overloaded in a good way because it had stories it refused to leave hanging and they continued all through the night.

Then, I woke up remembering what I wrote hurriedly and just let it be.

This 31 day thing feeling like obligation and nothing more. I could have trashed it, the one that was without flow and didn’t circle back around to make sense.

No matter really, I’m learning to grow.

Ironically, I wrote about not being “good” and the first thing that came to mind when my knees hit the floor in the darkness was.

I’m good, God. I’m good.

The reality of a sleepless night and a day that has the likelihood of stressful situations, wasn’t about to phase me, I felt sure.

Because I woke refreshed, unbelievably so and assured.

All is well.

I’m good.

God is so that way.

Oh, how I love His subtle ways.

All will be good.

All is well.

At the close of a meeting of minds trying to be correctly succinct and with draft three or four of some set of bylaws, there was a lull in the banter.

I looked down towards the gentleman who is in charge of the weekly soup kitchen.

Asked Jim, “How’s your friend?” He smiled and told me he saw him on Saturday, they all celebrated his 70th over soup.

“I still have the ring he made me.” I added, happily.

Remembering the day we were charged with counting the homeless and a pleasant man on a bike met us in the park to talk. He magically, meticulously folded a dollar bill and presented it to me, a ring!

Give me times like that Lord, more of these moments that set me back on track.

That remind me trials are common to us all, that we’re not different ever in your sight.

That your goodness is common to us all.

“The poor and the oppressor have this in common: The Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭29:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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 – Audience

Today was a series of exchanges and conversations.

Late last night, I loaded up my artwork and joined today, the morning marketers of creations, all of us gathered on the lawn.

Tell your story. Sing your song.

Questions came with interest, with pause and silent studious stares from steps back as if my paintings displayed against an ivy covered oak were as grand as a gallery opening, big city style, formal and fancy.

Ooh’s and Ah’s.

How did you get started?

What are you writing?

What have you written?

Will you write a book?

Why do you think artists love to paint the pear, most of all?

“Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭66:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I sat with a woman visiting a friend and we compared most everything, why the work we do is “heart work”, that church people can be mean

and that we do find God when we look for Him and then we share what little or large we really know, the God we truly know.

In the sanctuary or on the square.

We share.

Why do some angels have faces and others just an idea or sort of blank slate?

When did you begin painting and why do you call them girls?

And they listened, a mother and a daughter, a widow and an old friend.

My daughter and her husband gave me a Bible with wide margins. I began sketching female figures in long flowing gowns as I let sink in the truth or the grace of each passage until the “girls” moved from the thin sheets in my Bible to canvas layered with lyrics.

The ones with no features leave open the idea, more relatable, emoting grace or joy or what each eye may see for itself.

I call them girls because I consider them sweet, humble, and I guess eternal, ever youths.

“Thank you for telling me your story.” she said, the one who didn’t buy my art; but, declared me an artist.

And I smiled.

I smiled today.