Give Not Get

Today I give you a story you might never know.

Were it not for me reading three books at a time, one called The God Dare by Kate Battistelli, a second called Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist and the third, the book called Ephesians written by Paul.

I’ve just finished a just right omelette, fluffy pillow of egg with the soft insides of spinach and melty oozing cheese. On the side a good tomato as if straight from the vine, peppered generously. Enjoyed every bit, a mellowed out mug of coffee with cream to complement.

I gaze over at the empty plate and think to finish Ephesians but remind myself of the three words that came in light of getting on with my life, vocation of some sort, art, writing and family.

Give not Get.

I thought again.

I’m brave now, hearing God daring me to pay attention and say things He has for me to say.

There was a time I ate everything I could get and then ritualistically and yet uncontrollably used my unwell techniques to get rid of it all quickly.

I was not well then.

I’m close to weighing the same as my husband. I felt lighter yesterday, paused to see the flatness of my belly in the bathroom mirror and took a chance…decided to step on the scale.

Wrong!

You weigh the same, the same as last week and more than last month but not as much as that one time before.

I remembered the book about the bread and wine and not a mention three chapters in of calories or gluten or exercise.

Only stories of times around tables and splendid descriptions of food eaten with abandon, life and love.

Food freely given, not grasped for or grabbed to be hidden, hoarded in a get it now or never again kind of way.

Stories like my story this morning, a quiet acknowledgment of noticing my finished breakfast.

Oh, this is good…this life I get to live, have been given, it is good.

Given not taken.

We get new chances every day, to pick up where we left off, to make choices not to go back to old ways.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

To live as grace givers, savoring, trusting the flow of good things and graces.

We have known the gift so that others might know.

We give what we’ve been shown.

My “God Dare” today?

Writing about not eating, about not keeping what I ate because that was all I felt I could control.

A sum total of about 10 years of my life given to anorexia and bulimia.

Close to 25 years now, not thin but healthy.

What’s in front of you that feels insurmountable, that lessens your existence, that self-imposed struggle that sickens your body and soul?

We are created as God’s workmanship, we inhabit His spirit.

He gives life, life meant to be unfathomable in measure, the width, breadth and depth of it all.

I picked up Bread and Wine from the back stack of bargain books and already it has given me more than any book on diet or grace or shame has ever given.

Like its author, pregnancy (thank you, HB!) changed me, pregnancy saved me from my disordered eating.

I wish the change had come sooner, my hard fought recovery not at all sudden or easy, but cushioned by God’s grace.

It took becoming pregnant to finally say to the world, I’m hungry. My first pregnancy shifted so many aspects of my understanding of my body and with it, shifted my view of hunger…I could claim hunger on behalf of my baby, and that small step might as well have been a mile for all it unlocked inside me. Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine, a love letter to life around the table with recipes

In the book, is the question, What’s your last supper?

Mine?

Spaghetti thick with basil sauced tomatoes galore sprinkled with freshly shaved parmesan and bordered by thick buttered bread.

My cousin Vickie’s salad I can’t replicate on the side.

A glass of red wine as we recline and later gelato, the real kind that tastes like a coffee with just enough chocolate, a dollop of whipped cream to crown it!

Now, what’s for lunch? What’s for supper? Are the good watermelons ready?

Will we be fancy today, my daughter and I or will it be Chick Fil A?

Foes and Footstools

I have just a few blooms left of the farewell lilies.

I picked the withered petals, adding water to preserve what’s yet to bloom, like life still good to come from what has and is fading.

We can be confident that our God is always good.

Psalm 108 ends on a confident note, David says he knows that with God all of our victories are valiant ones.

Then the mood shifts. It’s sort of heavy and negative.

It’s real.

It’s about our foes, not just physical enemies, it can be circumstance, unforeseen change, opposition we sense or walk around carrying in our souls.

Enemies are not just people, they are the stuff of our negative stories, the ugly and sad of an imperfect world.

The struggles that come with intent to steal our peace.

Psalm 109 is an outspoken plea for help from God from David in light of his accusers, those who were attacking him through deceit.

I read it and sense David’s frustration and defeat. It is not easy to read as he asks for God to intervene to not allow blessing to come near his foe, only curses. David’s words are an outcry to God, a totally honest plea…asking God “do you see all that is happening to me?”

I love, love, love this honesty!

Psalm 109 ends with praise as if to say thank you God for letting me get that off my chest, don’t you worry, I am praising you anyway!

Could David have felt like me, honestly, God I promise to do my best?

Maybe.

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise him in the midst of the throng. For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save him from those who condemn his soul to death. Psalm 109:30-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And then, Psalm 110 keeps on teaching us how to live undefeated. It begins with a reminder to be patient, a reminder that He is near and that He sees it all.

“The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Psalm 110:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’m smiling now because all I can think is sit down now, take a deep breath, put your feet up. I see you.

Rest.

#continueandbelieve #heknowsmyname #godisincontrol

How Much We Need

“ …there is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below.”

‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭8:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I would stand close by and wait, watch and contribute as I was told.

My mama, in her kitchen, I watched as she prepped the meat for the main meal to add a pound cake for later.

In the intervals of ingredients, she rarely gave a measure.

She’d answer with “that’s enough” or “a little more”.

Rarely did she let me add too much. She knew that wound spoil it all. The flour would be mixed with the sugar. It would be impossible to separate the two.

We would have to start over.

In all my years of helping bake cake, that was never the case.

The measure of the two ingredients was always enough to take the next step, to add in the eggs one at a time and the butter.

The cake came out right. Consistently moist with the sweet thick light brown crust.

This morning I made a list of three things I’d like to believe without interruption, three things that would never go away, be not enough.

“You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

  1. Self-control
  2. Belief in possibility
  3. Assurance of God’s love

Someone may be reading this and asking how is it that she doesn’t know these things?

I sat just now and countered each need with truth. Because see, in this world we live in the stuff that gets mixed in gets us mixed up.

Self-control is my decision. Every decision begins with a thought. God’s spirit will be my guide.

“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NLT

All things are possible. This truth is for me. It is God’s desire that I allow my heart, not my mind, to lead.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God’s love is immeasurable. It is unwavering.

“No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:39‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I told someone yesterday I’ve been dreaming about my mama. I told her I think it’s because my daughter’s about to have a baby. She smiled and added she thinks that’s so sweet. I told her she’d understand one day, for her I hope it’s not soon.

Longing is immeasurable. Memories are a beautiful thing. God made me to remember us in the kitchen and her famous pound cake.

And he led me to consider the comfort of having enough.

Not too much.

He led me as if my mama and He had been in intimate conversation and they both decided.

Look now, she’s about to give in. She’s about to be pitiful again. She’s about to let doubt ruin the batter, she’s leaning closely towards throwing out the good ingredients and deciding she might never bake a good cake, create a story or a painting again!

Can I tell you one thing for sure?

He knows. He knows our tendencies and stands close by saying, let’s don’t go that way again.

I’m rising now from my morning spot on a day I am calling “sick” and I will get busy with the good things God has started in me and then I’ll go and try my best to get the ingredients for my mama’s unwritten recipe.

I have a cake to bake!

Thank you Jesus and mama, for teaching me.

Continue and believe.

I’m afraid I never follow the five minute rule. Still, I appreciate the prompt, so I’m linking up with others prompted by the word “measure”.

Measure

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 – 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 – Praise

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

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

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

Oh, how I understand that joy.

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

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

Receive and then, give.

Praise.

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

Oh, how my pencil praises!

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

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

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

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

31 Days, Freely – Hope

The air, obviously different this morning, I walked as quietly as possible thinking my aunt was still sleeping.

The back door was open wide and I saw her nowhere. The laundry room, slightly lit by the light marking the dryer’s cycle and a shifting noise was ever faint.

I decided it must be a load of towels. I turned to start the coffee, turned back and there she was. Smiling and nodding at me, her hair all messy and loose and her hands already working, determined and sure.

“Well, hey.” she said, “I’ve gotten behind on my laundry.”

She smiled and added “get you some coffee” and so, I did.

I didn’t tell her I’d been looking for her, that I’d gone out on the patio and thought I might find her watering or working already in her yard.

I didn’t tell her how the sweetest aroma I’ve ever known caused me to stand still, surveying the impatiens, the begonia, the ferns, turning and tilting and trying to find the mysterious source.

We sat with our coffee and fig newtons and we caught up quietly.

And then I asked her what the scent was that captured me, the one so enveloping.

She asked me if I’d noticed that all the blooms are reaching out wider, brighter, more fully. They know the season’s about to change, she informed.

Then she told me that it was the ginger lilies who sent the morning scent my way.

“Must’ve been the slight breeze this morning, it’ll bring ’em right up to the porch.”

I looked over the wide green carpet of her sloping yard, way past the little house my grandma lived before and thought I’d never have figured it out had she not told me, the massive lilies, so far in the swampy distance, bordering the woods.

“Oh, yeah.” she added as we walked down to see, “these lilies live long, they’re strong, they keep holding on.”

Then we plundered around and she showed us the elephant ears she’d discovered and she took us around back to the tiny purple blooms running wild and free.

I thought about her love, her faith, her quiet hope and I watched her as we shared a current stressful worry or two.

She nodded again, folded her hands to pray and with no words or a prayer at all, we heard.

“Prayer and patience…”

and hope now too, I know she always hopes.

I want a wide and full hope like hers in my changing seasons, all stored up for now, being so very confident there will always be more.

Hope endures.

31 Days, Freely -Belong

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

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

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

He belonged among the farmers.

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

My daddy was meticulous about how the potatoes were planted.

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

I read this morning about perseverance, about persistence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

‭‭Luke 8:13-14

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

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

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

‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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

Daddy belonged among the farmers, I believe.

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

31 Days, Freely – Afraid

I see the cloud, I step in. I want to see Your glory like Moses did. Flashes of light and rolls of thunder. I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid. Jesus Culture

Somewhere between the nightstand and the hallway, I misplaced my glasses. I want to turn back and look again, my hand unable to find them in the dark before the day.

My husband is sleeping, I’ll get by without them. Stepping into the air of day, the sky is pink behind the pines and I squint hoping to get an unobstructed view.

It’s not possible. I long for a wide open space, an expanse of empty field.

Like the place of my childhood, room to roam, to run, to see for miles to come.

I look up and I am welcomed. Little cotton ball clouds all clustered and I can’t get enough and yet so much more, always more.

The slow shifting sky above me, more and more to see.

The morning after deciding I might never be enough, this rushing into making up for lost time on wasted days and jumping into every chance for fear there will be no more!

A rejection, the fifth or six and I said to myself, well you’re not an encourager really, you can’t write an encouraging submission. Encouragement is not your voice.

I bet God just loves it when I talk to myself that way, it’s always either fear or truth. One way or the other, it’s growth.

Maybe Moses worried he was running out of time, afraid the calling and the task might not be complete.

He prayed and asked God to show Him the way, to show him His glory.

“And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.””

‭‭Exodus‬ ‭33:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God assured him, I’m gonna be with you and you’re gonna know without a doubt you’ve been in my presence, but I can’t show you everything, you won’t see my face.

God told Moses that he would lead him and that mercy would be shown along with goodness. Moses saw God walk away and nothing was ever the same.

Moses was not afraid.

Not afraid to be led and to lead.

Or that he would run out of time or provision.

The measure of my success is often skewed by my fear of not being enough, fear I won’t have the time or won’t choose to go on.

A futile mindset, until I was reminded by the sky and the glory and later, discovered my glasses at the foot of the bed and carried on, carried on anticipating the next time I’ll be reminded to notice God in my presence,

His glory reminding me, I am not afraid.

Linking up with others who are writing for 31days. I can’t say I’m following all the rules or that my presence is share-worthy encouragement, I’m just writing…Freely.

Light Comes Through

I’m horrible at writing for only five minutes. (I believe she was right, out of the blue she told me to “focus on the bigger thing, Lisa…the story that is supposed to be written, yours!” ) I like the idea of responding to a suggested prompt, waiting to see what God might have me say. It’s an exercise, skills building, practice.

So, Five Minute Friday’s prompt today…here is where you led me:

This morning, I’m recording what I’m beginning to see come through. I’m not concerned over what I’m not sure of yet.

The light just enough for now, more breathtaking than all at once, for sure.

I should keep a record of how things come true, come through when I take my thoughts elsewhere.

Big, big revelations about my path and tiny little, sweet surprises that if I’d seen my face in a mirror, I’m quite sure it held a glow.

How a bold statement from an honest soul had been tucked away festering in my place of what if, maybe.

In the back of my mind.

The place where those thoughts I manipulate, the ones compromised by past and the ones trying to shine like a pretty twinkle of light longing for unveiling.

Yep, they are all there together.

This morning, I journaled two sentences from a lengthy devotional, pulling out the ones for me.

Not a single one of your thoughts escapes God’s notice.

The place I keep deeply covered, the longings for one thing or another.

They come to light when I let them, on their own.

There’s a lesson here. One I should know by now. We can’t hold faith, can’t see it or hear it.

Cannot manipulate or mold into what we want.

It resides in the recesses.

Then when it pleases, it shows itself in beautiful or bold surprises.

And though I’m giddy sometimes over the surprise of God’s notice and timing, I still go back to depending on me and my part in it all.

When did I forget that you’ve always been the King of the world? Natalie Grant

The hidden things are of God. The secrets revealed in time not mine.

Were it not so I’d do nothing but strive, search, yearn, push and pout.

Instead, maybe, no…Yes! I’ll hold on longer this time to the surprises that are never surprises at all. Yes, I will depend on your knowing.

A phone call you never expected, an answer to your fears on the other end or just a voice, saying everything is okay.

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬