The geese were all gathered on the new neighbor’s lawn.
Looking one to another, they sort of sashayed towards the water.
The newly laid squares of sod already thick like a 70’s shag, I watched their heavy bottoms shimmy as if to get their fins loose.
The water was near, the path was no longer tree filled, the pond was just down and behind the new build.
The environment had changed, still they were intent on their annual season of pursuit.
Same with me this morning.
I found an old photo from a seven year ago beach stay, with the quote by Mark Twain.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
The irony of waiting is that it does not mean doing nothing at all. It means not doing things you know are not yours to do, things like anxiously putting yourself in places that might bring notice, like checking to see if a painting sold when you know you’ll find out at the already established time, it’s not calling four times when the caller shouldn’t be you but from the one you’re set to hear back from.
What waiting is, is knowing God is working and you keep moving you don’t sit still.
You move unburdened because you know He knows.
You left it with Him.
It’s a glorious walk that becomes a free run on a day all of a sudden you notice you’re not as heavy as before, oh, again you can run.
And so you run with music in your soul and your ears. You run. You run as you wait for your triumph to unfold.
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.
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?
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?
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 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?
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.
“ …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
Belief in possibility
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”.
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,
No wonder I don’t want to leave, my morning time with God is always too brief.
This morning God told me,
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.
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,
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.