View from Above

Less than a few days ago, I read about the meaning of the times that wake us up from sleep. The 3:00 a.m to 4:00 or 5 is symbolic of a word, a message, a spiritual point needing our attention.

God is speaking, His view, from above.

This morning I dreamt of a deep and grey, muddy ocean, the water becoming wider and the shore, a distant angle I couldn’t decide how I’d reach, why it continued to grow more narrow.

I stood searching, one side and the other, the space before me and all around and I wondered might I finally drown.

Instead, I began to swim.

I rose up heavy because of Saturday morning and prayed bedside;

“God, help me pay attention today.”

Because like Samuel as a child, I question whether it’s you.

“So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”

‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

My morning dream, a deep ocean, an elusive shore, deciding to swim.

Linking up with other writers prompted by the word “Speak”

Feelin’ melancholy, Sis?

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Something about Sunday had me wanting to go home.

To the country, a big white house, grandma’s house.

It was a sneaky kind of longing all around a breakfast choice, wishing for breakfast at my grandma’s…doors wide open to the wrap around the front screened-in porch.

I always loved the narrow little side porch, a good place to be tucked away.

Last Sunday morning, I found myself wanting what couldn’t be again.

That kind of floating around in your mind of all things changing.

The knowledge of not being able to be in that place, with those people again, not a cumbersome sadness dragging around all Eyoreish….

Just an almost sweet ache. I had written about the look on my son’s face at graduation, and my sister-in-law commented:

“Feeling melancholy, sis?” Dianne

And it stuck.  Why yes, I believe I am and by the way, Thank you for putting a name to my longing, my wistful thinking

Also,  thank you for calling me “sis”.

That made me smile in the simplest and sweetest of ways.

Melancholy feelings on a Sunday morning,

Wishing for, what back then I thought silly, odd old people ways.

I opened the refrigerator for milk, thinking I’ll have cereal and banana for a change.

Instead of protein boredom and sameness,  I immediately thought corn flakes in the big white, bright rooster box and I went for the closest we had in the cabinet.

Remembered the wilted,  golden floating, softened flakes… me, at Bama’s tipping the bowl to get every last drop of milk flavored with thick sweetness of cream.

I was thinking about my grandma’s sweet milk, tiny pancakes and coffee with cream from a can, poured into the saucer of a cup to cool so I could then sip along with her.

So, instead of two percent,  I grabbed the pint of light cream purchased earlier for something, can’t even recall.

I poured it over my flakes and bananas, its creaminess settling amongst the fruit and flakes, finding its way into the ridges of the flakes and sinkin’ into the bananas.

I tasted home, sweet country dirt road, playing  baseball with my cousins on the clay front yard home.

The sweetness of simple, of sparseness, of sameness…of small things that happened with spontaneity.

Again on Wednesday, I thought of Bama, my grandma.  I moved into my morning, the lingering melancholy of accepting change, difference, good and worthy transitions…blue, nonetheless.

Waking up feeling complacent, doubtful…needing to surrender but not really feeling hopeful or too thrilled with letting go…

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I journaled in the quiet marking my little notes to self. Remembering my grandma in the dim tiny light, her Bible in her lap. I made more notes on prayer.

Lately, God has called my heart and beckoned my attention towards prayer. That morning, empty house except a snuggled down beagle and lab puppy (like a toddler)  waiting beside the door, I sang in the shower;  free, confident and joyously affirming  “Tell it to Jesus”  Lisa.

Are you weary, are you heavy hearted?
Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.
Are you grieving over joys departed?
Tell it to Jesus alone.

Refrain

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus,
He is a friend that’s well known.
You’ve no other such a friend or brother,
Tell it to Jesus alone.

I’m linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and am thankful for a chance to Tell My Story, His story. http://jenniferdukeslee.com/tellhisstory-the-first-step-to-authentic-friendship/

Are you here yet?

Everything started moving really quickly.  May felt like two days, not a month. Your birthday, on the 29th and I thought,   “Didn’t we just get done with Christmas and your first car and making the AllStar team with your buddies, all lined up, gangly legs swinging along the side of the pool?”

Seriously, wasn’t it just a little while ago that bedtime meant Spot stories and afternoons were Tellie Tubbies and Clifford the Big Red Dog?  I feel like it was just yesterday, on a Sunday just like today…warm outside, summer time waiting for us to get home from church…that you caught me off guard, stepping from our pew and down the aisle to open your heart and life to Jesus.  And I cried, not big showy tears, sweet soul-filled tears.

And it seems not so very long ago that you’d fall asleep in my bed.  Not long ago that I’d pick you up from daycare to find you usually on the playground. I’d walk towards the window after gathering your things and I’d watch for just a bit. Mamas do that.  Sometimes you’d be sitting in the sand and I’d smile because I knew your sharp little blue Keds and socks would need to be emptied first thing.

Sometimes, it seems I’d find you in thinking mode. You’ve always been my thinking child.  And I could see you watching the other little boys and girls, content to sit and gaze.  I can see so clearly your little elbows on your knees, your chin cupped in your little hands. Or sometimes running around, laughing as you toddled on cute, chubby little tan legs, blonde hair glistening from the sun.

But most of all, I saw you waiting, your face intently focused and your little mind’s clock anticipating my arrival,  waiting to hear my voice, your name…”Austin I’m here.”

Are you here yet?

Are you here yet?

And this is why I can’t take my eyes off this one shot.

My daughter, making allowances for my lack of discretion,  captured this gem.   I told her…”Catch him looking, he’s scaninng the room.  Hurry, get that shot!”

 My son, looking to see if I had arrived.  Waiting to see me there. On the day of his graduation, knowing I was there, but looking for me in the crowd. Until finally a barely noticeable, understated nod and just a hint of a reassured smile.

Because he had been waiting to know, I was there.

Be assured,  “Austin, I’m here.”

humble believer – the one believed to fail

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Pretty soon, I’m taking a trip down country roads.

A neighboring county where the roads become pretty hills and valleys, oak trees and old barns, daffodils blooming freestyle.

I’ll be looking for an old country cemetery that might have one headstone marked with the name belonging to an ancestor on my daddy’s side.

An ancient military man named Jabez Hendrix.

My brother, connecting and seeking, a habit of his.

A longing, perhaps to understand more, to fill in missing pieces and endings to stories that might be clearer, happier and hopeful.

Just so happens Jabez Hendrix is buried close by.

In the meantime, I am fascinated by Jabez of the Bible.

Just a few sentences about one son in a family of several sons.

Likened to the runt of a large breed of pups.

The one that caused mama dog pain, scrawny and most likely not the pick of the litter. The son whose name meant “bore in pain”.

Yet, he believed and trusted God for more.

Was bold enough to grasp the possibility of a God who created all.

Was confident enough to request more than just enough

Was humble enough to ask for God to stay close by, to ask for God to keep his hand ever present.

Yet, he knew of frailty and falling  asking God, “keep me from evil.”

Jabez, born to fail, believed in more.

Asked for more and received.

I’m praying like Jabez going on four days now.

Thinking of the blessings God has for me.

The blessings I never thought to ask for

The people he wants to place on my path

The broadening of my territory, my influence and influencers.

His hand, at my humble request kept securely close

Keeping me from evil.

Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil…So God granted him what he requested. I Chronicles 4: 9-10

The one who was most shy, most awkward, most likely to hide away.

The one searching for identity and getting lost in life, disconnected, disowned, discarded

I am the one who believes, finally in God.

His hand upon me.

His placing and planning of my territory.

His keeping me from evil.

Loved by God, the one with less than hopeful beginning and rebellious crazy, scary middle.

Fascinated and acquainted with God’s Jabez

The humble believer.

A courageous soldier, ancient uncle, laid to rest in a country cemetery a country ride away.

 

 

The Beautiful After

Fascinated with the fallen - Hunting Island, SC

Fascinated with the fallen – Hunting Island, SC

Massive branches, limbs, fronds border the shore.

Beautiful in their damaged and broken state.

Yet, strong and impressive in their beauty.

Luring us, to walk amongst the destruction.

To pose for photos next to nature’s enormous debris.

Standing proudly, smiling prominently as if an honor to be alongside.

The beautiful aftermath.

Storms cannot destroy grandeur.

Cannot diminish courage.

Will not silence or obscure the power of the telling.

The brave sharing of troubles that  came.

Of strength that was tested.

Strongly different, altered, broken, but not destroyed.

Softened, perhaps and surrendered by the grace of storm.

Conquerors, enduring hopeful survivors with fascinating stories.

My story, my song…sharing the beautiful afters.

 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God, through Jesus. We gained this access through faith. So, we can stand and rejoice in the glory of God. We can rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering teaches us to persevere, which gives us character and character reminds us to rely on hope. 

Hope does not disappoint us.  Hope is God’s love poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  Romans 5: 1-5

Hope gets us through to the Beautiful After.

 

 

Day 13: looking for good- courage, my perspective

10152232023311203She came to our shelter, she and her daughter, victims of abuse. No family here, all overseas. She had followed her military husband back to our State and ended in a tiny little town with a damaged, injured, bitter husband.

He became violent. They, afraid and alone hiding in a closet from threats of a shotgun rampage were able to leave safely.

They moved into our shelter and shared a bedroom without a window. Just a room, in a house.

A room of solace. A place at the end of the day with predictable calm.

Undereducated, afraid, cowering in public, over time the fear and anxiety eased. Her daughter blossomed, happy and outgoing. Mama went back to school. I was teary-eyed the day I saw them both baptized.

Months later, in their own place, mama has a job and a car. This is what we define, in non-profit logic model language, a successful outcome.

She is now a member of our Board.

Yet, today she came by to announce a new job with a better salary and benefits. I  hugged her and asked when she starts.   “That’s the thing, she said, I’m afraid to give my notice, I am so afraid.”

“You don’t like conflict do you, you worry about their reaction, right?”   She said,  “Yes, I know they are going to be mean.”

I continued, suggesting she read a devotional or scripture in the morning and pray.   “Handle it the very first thing.”  I said.  My assistant added,  “You have no reason not to improve yourself,  no one would blame you.”

She heard, but wasn’t listening, agonizing over what she had to do.  We typed up a resignation letter and she was a little better.

I hugged her again, and reminded her of her timeline with us, every  single baby and big step, knowing this new step would make her even stronger.

She left.

I turned to my assistant announcing,   “And that is what being physically and verbally abused to the point of hiding in a closet will do to you. ”

But it gets better over time, easier with each and every facing of fears, of angry people, controlling people, people who have insecurities, problems of their own.

Today was a gift, a reminder of redemption.

A chance to share what I know.

The gift of perspective, the courage to use my past hurts, fears, anxieties and sorrows even, for good…for God.

Courage is a good thing, good made better and better with every challenge.

Fortunate ones

0bf3c5016fc0301f1f8fa9b0db68f55bYears ago, I was responsible for a camp outing for boys and girls.  These children were handpicked based on the probability they would not be able to go to camp…this cool, adventurous camp made up of children of engineers, doctors, attorneys and such. We decided to bring in speakers who could share how they became a leader.

My guest arrived and I prepped him, suggesting, “Recall a time in your life of struggle or challenge and simply share how you got through and why you are stronger for the struggle.”

He replied, ” I don’t have anything to share.  I have not experienced struggle.” So, he stood, towering over a group of children sitting “criss-cross applesauce” and talked about himself and his accomplishments.

I have often pondered this. Is it possible to never experience misfortune? Is it possible to have been so fortunate that things were easy, no struggle, no yearning, no valleys…all peaks?

The fortunate ones, the ones without struggle, without challenge or sorrow…the ones who insist they’ve had no challenge…”it ain’t me, I’m not the fortunate one”.

I’m the one who thinks too much. Who laughs at herself, who embraces her imperfections, who smiles when a bird sings its morning song. Who shares her story, raw, real and true.

I’m the fortunate one who knows everyone has struggles…but only a few of us are courageous enough to use our stories for good…for God.