Deeper Still

I kept my promise to myself this summer although the plan for the big reveal just didn’t come true.

I feared the worst thing that made absolutely no sense.

What if I can’t feel my way back to safety? What if I hit bottom and lose my breath? What if I’m left to figure it out on my own, panic and struggle and cause my own deadly distress?

I practiced in private. Well, just the instructor/husband and I. The scenario I planned, on my birthday my children would come over and we’d grill burgers and then I’d surprise them as they sat by the pool.

They’d see I was able. I had overcome my fear of diving into the deep end.

Other plans played out, my birthday was good but not the “big reveal”.

The accomplishment was more private, I believe it was better that way. Mine to treasure.

Now, it’s Autumn and the kitchen window is open to welcome cool air as I sit with my Bible, thinking about God’s call to deep.

There’s a verse in the Book of Acts that describes this beckoning I’m feeling.

This quiet acceptance of slow growth after my baptism, like roots spreading underneath, necessary for solid strength, I sense the preparing of this stronger me.

This one who is going deeper still in the sharing of my story, my perspective on this often discussed Jesus, the Son of God, waiting for all the skeptics, doubters, intellects and risk takers to dive in to the simplicity of grace.

To feel their way towards heaven.

There must have been masses of deep thinkers bent on proving Paul wrong back then.

They listened and he kept speaking.

He knew his place was simply to share his story of change. His understanding of God, of Jesus.

“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.”

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭17:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Aren’t we all just “feeling our way” towards the unknown and knowable God?

When I stood on the edge of the pool, my toes gripping the edge, body bent towards the water and practicing the rocking type motion that would give me the push

I was scared.

Scared of the same irrational thing, what if I get to the bottom and I can’t come back up.

“What happens when I am that deep?” I asked my husband.

He always answered, same way, he gave me step by step instructions and I followed them and he says it wasn’t pretty; but, I did it.

I jumped/fell in and I did it again and again until I was satisfied.

I met my goal before my 59th birthday!

Symbolic for me, although I didn’t know it.

This has summer changed me, grown me.

Still growing. Letting the roots of assurance of what happened to me in the water take their time in spreading wide, making plans and breathing life into what may have otherwise dried up and withered.

My branches are reaching wider.

Feeling their way towards God.

To the water, the deeper end, bottomless pool filled with mercy and grace for those who take the chance, step from the edge, finally trusting we’ll be drawn up, face beaming, pure joy as we pop up!

Hallelujah, I have felt my way towards God!

Linking up with other Friday writers, prompted by the word “Deep”.

Read others’ take on it here:

Deep

Vanity and Strife

In the margin of my Bible, the heading of Ecclesiastes, I’ve added, “Reflections of an old man chasing after ‘good things.'”

I’m glad Solomon left behind his wisdom, his insistence that what we strive for other than God is akin to wasting our days.

Still, we want what we want. We long for what represents achievement.

I laid this leaf inside my Bible not sure I’d be able to preserve it. I was able. The spot in the center is so intricate it looks as if a tree with tiny branches created a piece of art.

I will keep it.

To have my art in a gallery would mean painting a series of similar pieces, gaining the attention of a gallery owner and them being thrilled to display my works.

There might even come a time that I become famous, someone well known buys a painting and all of the other wannabe well knowns follow behind and my art might become well-known

Same with my writing. I may by chance have someone read my blog and they know an agent and they tell said agent, I think this writer is worth looking at more closely. She has a meaningful story.

I imagine such things.

I make up fantastic scenarios about being noticed, about being a success.

But I’ve had little successes that have taught me success doesn’t satiate the soul.

If at all, only for a little while.

“Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭2:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Solomon was successful, wise and well-known.

But, found his soul empty, his striving after the uncatchable wind.

I listened to a Grammy winning performer share with a likeminded and successful four book author.

Both admitted days of empty longing that hadn’t been and couldn’t be filled by “success”.

Fear of being able to be enough in their performance led them to isolate for days.

Something was missing at times. Their success on its own could not sustain happiness, contentment or a sense of satisfaction.

I believe success is simply intentional contentment and a personal resignation to choose to pursue “works of your hands” that you give back as an honor of God.

Otherwise, we chase for validation, we covet the Instagram lives of others, we grow sullen over being seemingly left behind.

I’ve been kept whole by my God. I have helped others. I have loved my family. I have made it my goal to grow closer to God each day.

Moment by moment, this pursuit to me, is God’s idea, if there is one, of success.

Success to me?

Being brave so that others will too. Being hopeful so that others have hope, choosing love over remorse and humble surrender to what I in all my vain striving do not know.

Last week, I wrote one of my bravest posts so far. A handful of people read, two or three said thank you or I understand.

Success?

Yes, that feels like just enough.

Success

Linking up with others at FMF on the subject of “Success”.

Testament?

My husband described it as a “testament”, my description of my day.

And I didn’t correct him. I knew he meant testimony. Hey, that’s progress for me, the not correcting of word mistake.

He wasn’t there on Sunday, he had been called to work. I shared with him once I settled in back home standing in the kitchen.

He was at a loss for words.

If I’m honest, he and others sometimes are surprised by me and so, I leave them with a task, figuring out what it is that Lisa wants them to say. (Enneagram 4 indeed, me) 😊

So, I texted him the copied post from my Instagram, expressing the joy of my “beautiful day”.

Here you go:

So, today was baptism Sunday at True North. I’d forgotten about it. I usually try to prepare myself for the emotions it stirs. I watched people publicly professing their Savior, Jesus and my gut began to stir, asking myself when, why not already? Did that this morning and then actually “took my thoughts captive”, thinking it hasn’t been the right time yet, you don’t need to know the reason. I’d told my family, I’m going to get baptized, I am…the first time I was a little girl, scared to death of God, knew who Jesus was, didn’t know Jesus!

Thank God for mercy and a country preacher, I gave my life to Jesus when my children were little. My path hasn’t always been straight; but, I’ve known him beside me. Grace has kept me and grown me beyond all expectations based on my past and the human in me.

So, today I knew I’d be baptized soon, I would and because of God’s great kindness it would be the right time. I was at peace.

The pastor surprised the church today at the end, the baptism waters welcomed me and close to twenty others. I, as you might know, love words. But, words failed me other than “beautiful day” “can’t even express it”…God’s powerful timing.

I don’t anticipate anything now other than God’s continued provision of His plans for my life. I’m no more perfect because I was baptized today, I’m still a learner. I’m still a listener. But, oh my goodness thank God I’m not who I was, not last year, last month or even…before church this morning.

Early morning, it felt like an odd prayer, I asked God to help me understand obedience. He answered in my Utmost devotion. Obedience is simply knowing we were created to live a life in pursuit of God, to choose holy every time the choice is ours. Today, I told HB when the surprising opportunity to be baptized was given “I got to do this.” I believe she said “I knew you would.” I can’t be sure. My emotions were high, the Holy Spirit was powerful, it was to be honest, overwhelming.

Thank you to those who came to greet me, who smiled from your seat, called from Charleston when you heard.

Thank you, Jesus.

#beautifulday #madenew #faithful19

A “Testament” he said,

Wow, what a testament.

I’m googling testament, curious over its meaning.

I find he may have been correct.

I was wrong.

tes·ta·ment
/ˈtestəmənt/

…something that serves as a sign or evidence of a specified fact, event…

Yes, my testimony of last Sunday is indeed a testament.

A story worth retelling.

The Five Minute Friday prompt today is “testimony“, so many stories, one loving God.

https://fiveminutefriday.com/2019/09/05/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-testimony/

Light Remains

Has your path left a long shadow behind you of late?

When you look back at before do you see only the grey, the narrow thinning of your best days?

This is not the case.

We rarely see the places our light remains. This, I believe is always always God’s intent, we don’t have to see it, see Him to know the light in us is never dimmed.

We don’t have to know the places the light he gave us remains.

Maybe that’s grace that says this is humility.

Maybe it’s mercy that says there’s new every morning, let’s move forward.

Some days I skip the Old Testament passage my guide tells me is for today.

Not today.

Job 29 and 30 is Job’s defense, his argument with God. I suppose you might say it’s sad.

But, it’s honest.

Job is recalling his standing amongst others, the way people responded to his walking by, the commitments he made to others and followed through. Maybe you’ve been in a similar place. Yesterday, God positioned me with a woman of faith, we caught up and she assured me she’d sensed some recent changes had been uneasy.

We were in agreement, God grows us up in those seasons, helps us not fight for our reputations, to sit in silence and let Him lead.

While I’d never compare my life to Job’s, I learn something new each time I turn to his book. Today, it wasn’t the inventory of all his good he reminds God of in these chapters. It was to me a couple of verses I think may have been his lasting peace.

His memories of the way he was with others. This cherished. What Job remembered being, doing, believing it was good.

“I smiled on them when they had no confidence, and the light of my face they did not cast down.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭29:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What a beautiful thing, to have changed the environment or lessened someone’s pain by being near.

Yes, this is enough.

More than.

My friend and I talked about the enemy yesterday too.

How revelations like the one above will try to be dulled by gossipers, questioners, disputers and even our own doubts about your heart and soul’s intentions.

We are human, we get drawn towards bitterness and hurt. We learn as we go, hard times increase our faith.

It’s the soft light of our faith that will remain in the same way it did in other former places.

God’s light is ever slow to dull.

I am so thankful for Job. He teaches me every single time. God is always good.

Always.

Always faithful as we endure for the sake of His plans not our own.

Linking up with other FMF bloggers on the prompt of BACK

Five Minute Friday

#thecolorsofmybible #butforhisgrace #faithful19

Mystery and Secret

One translation calls it a secret and the other a mystery.

Both talk about glory.

It happened again.

I woke with words from a verse. It’ll either be a verse or some lyrics and it happens quite often.

I’m listening to “Remember God” by Annie F. Downs now.

She writes of a desperate time in her life. One morning she woke with lyrics. It was significant for her.

I see.

I like her conclusion as to the reason, she says it must be because her mind is at rest when she’s sleeping and her soul can contribute to the conversation.

She didn’t say it just like that but, I see.

I’m such an imperfect follower of Jesus and yet, I’m still so very called to listen.

It’s the following that brings me words and lyrics.

Today’s?

“Christ in me, the hope of glory”

I thought about it, the minimization of this truth that I do.

Christ in me.

Must’ve been from talking with my cousin about how we want to live and be seen and known in our living by others who see.

See the peaceable of me, just see it, not needing any telling.

Just showing.

Like it truly is a secret or a mystery, the gradual change in the joy on my face, the ease in conversation, the letting be and letting go what are not matters that are to matter to me.

Glory, I longed to know what it is that I’m aching for, leaning towards, committed to and convinced of.

Of all the synonymous words,

I’ll stick with splendor.

I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the splendor that says to me,

There are beautiful things waiting with your name on them. This is hope, mysterious believing in splendor to come.

The tiny roses are blooming again even after being clearly overly pruned.

Oddly, the thorns are minimal and ones that are appearing are cushioned by tender green.

Little baby teacup like flowers are showing up amongst the leaves turning darker colors.

As if to say.

There are seasons even in the midst of a season, there are plot twists and mysterious yet to be seen glories.

The thing you’re waiting for, your assurance of ordering your days is taking its bittersweet time in arrival.

You just feel so scattered, you keep saying.

In the process, you see a settling, you sense a bit more comfort in the not always knowing.

And you know why your reply has been on repeat in various conversations related to your transition.

God is growing me in this season.

And you know for sure there’s no visible evidence and you know that’s okay.

It is true, you are growing.

There’s no need for notice or big “to do” over you.

What matters is the soul of you, the shift of your spirit, the incremental transition to the you known by God.

To peacable you, peaceful and at peace you.

Oh, I know it will happen again, likely tomorrow.

My first thought groggy but awake.

It will be of God.

Either song or scripture.

“And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.”

‭‭Colossians 1:27 NLT

And I’ll chase it again, want to own it.

I’ll chase down that glory and I’ll say thank you Jesus for your persistence in chasing down my soul, wearing that thorny crown, causing me to wonder, leading me to follow.

Thank you for the secret, the mysterious hope of you.

Job, the 5th Chapter

I forgo my regular pattern of following my daily Bible guide and I go back to Job.

I am curious as to whether I’d have been as intrigued by Job twenty or so years ago as I am today.

An Old Testament book that reads like a novel to me, not one with lengthy lineage lists of unpronounceable names or one that details all of the practices and laws, I love the emotion of Job.

The emotion of God in this book.

Would I have felt the same many years ago, years when I felt forgotten by God and others?

I don’t know.

Because God knows, I didn’t really know God back then.

But, He knew me.

He surely knew Job.

In Chapter 3 Job laments. Chapter 4 and then 5 are the first of the attempts to comfort, redirect, to talk about the perceived unfairness of God by Eliphaz, his friend.

Life includes the expectation of trouble he told him then told him to complain, God would understand, would intervene.

“For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground, but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭5:6-7‬ ‭ESV

Eliphaz is confident of Job’s innocence and so he tells him essentially, tell God how you feel and since He knows you’re a godly man, He’ll come through.

“Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.

For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭5:17-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And so the chapter ends on a good note, a friend hopeful in his advice to a friend.

Chapter 6 of the Book of Job is 30 verses in the words of Job, a valid and lamenting complaint to God.

A plea for redirection, for rescue.

“Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭6:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

As far as the rest of the story, (after a long while) God restores Job in new ways. Job’s old days of integrity, of blessing, of beautiful things, those no longer remained.

But, God gave more and He gave even greater understanding to a man who stuck with Him.

I suppose this is why I consider the Job story so important and uplifting in between the lines of damage, death and destruction for no reason other than one.

Trust God.

Trust God in smaller ways.

Trust God in your present day, your past is only a reference for all the goodness, the rescue from what could’ve, should have killed you.

Trust God in your unknown.

His hands hold your beautiful future here on this evil tainted earth and your unfathomably sublime and peaceful heaven.

Job, Chapter 5, a chronicle of the advice of a friend who eventually tossed him aside, named his “wickedness great” and joined in with Job’s wife saying throw in the towel, “curse God and die”.

Leaving Job with one sole friend, advisor and listener, God.

Lord, thank you for Job, thank you for his trials that were unmerited and for his decision to stay aligned despite confusion with You.

May I learn even more from him and from you. Because of mercy, I pray, Amen

Linking up with others here, prompted by “Five”.

https://fiveminutefriday.com/2019/08/01/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-five/

Happy Anniversary, FMF!

Middle Place Waiting

They didn’t startle as I stepped closer. Any minute I expected the interruption of an assertive announcement by the leader of the flock and then a sudden flutter and departure upward.

Instead they just kinda waddled or as my little nephew described my walk when he was little.

The geese were “shalkin”. Their bottoms were shaking a little as they walked away. 😊

I watched as they slowly went from one neighbor’s front lawn to another.

Then several just situated themselves in the middle of our well traveled road.

Cars slowed, geese cleared and then cars quietly drove on.

Some tapped their horns lightly. The neighbors little girls, I could hear in the distance as I sat in my evening space, giggling over the visitors.

They were congregating in front of me, on the other side of the fence.

I’d love to say my mama sent them to see me and in a way my response to them, the sweetness of their odd visit, it’s heaven sent because it gives me a silliness that’s rare for me.

Unexpectedness invites us to believe. Click To Tweet

Last week I ran in my pajamas from the back to the front surprised by them, our yard filled with geese and now scattered feathers.

Truth is, I believe, they’re confused. Their trek has been redirected. The pond they expectantly fly to from the other is now uprooted, uprooting their annual route, their typical schedule, their counted on livelihood.

The big log trucks in and out, orange signs for the coming and going cars, warning to caution, log trucks might be entering here.

Thankful for the signs, they may be saving the geese from head on beak collision.

I’m anxious to see if they fly again with ease, once the noise is done, the bustle and debris cleared, the pond safe to return to, despite being without tall pines.

They’ll figure it out and this might be our final year of geese visits. It may be a while before I recall again the voice of my mama saying, “Here they come.”

I’m listening for new things in this middle ground called transition, age, vocation, dream pursuit, purpose and plan.

Where are you now?

The exciting onset of endeavor, the middle ground of stagnant seeming nothing place, or are you celebrating your arrival, your destiny’s destination?

I’m learning to be settled where I am, the solid place of somewhat mediocre.

Because I know the excitement of accomplishment, accolades and acknowledgement of you. I’ve been in those places, stood behind those high pedestals.

I’ve been in the place of defeat too, the place where the floor beckons my soul to release my fears.

The middle too, the place of multiple options and lines cast like lures towards the big fish, nothing worth keeping, I just throw it back in to grow, try try again.

Feels less like suffering suddenly and more like learning to be still. Click To Tweet

Patience. The middle place like overgrown pond fishing, it’s more about waiting than reeling in.

The path is unfolding, keep waiting.

Every place you are in He is there too.

In the happy beginning, what sadly or successfully ended and in the middle, the place of hoping and of not knowing.

Always, always.

“lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:20‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Continue and believe. Click To Tweet

Prompted to write by the FMF group. Read more here:

https://fiveminutefriday.com/2019/07/25/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-middle/

Distance Pursuit

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.

Thinking about the distance since then.

The space between what caught my attention and inspired my imagining to only beginning and recently tangible taking initiative.

That space is not seven years worth of big, not necessarily but sometimes true.

It is small. Small like making it through the uncertain woods to step gingerly over river soaked rocks to reach the other side.

The side that causes you looking back from whence you’ve stepped across and recalling the overgrowth, the rocky places, the spaces with sounds like sissing snakes underfoot.

You stepped over and you sense the importance.

You’re being distanced from the you you once only imagined being brave enough to pursue,

The landscape has changed.

You pursue it, the brave world of being, seeing, living…

different!

Continue and believe.

Go the distance.

“This is the way you should go,” Isaiah‬ ‭30:21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Linking up with others on Five Minute Friday, prompted by the word, Distant.

Willing To Be Filled

The heavy midnight rain made the grass thick against my feet.

The hem of my pajama pants is damp from my stepping out.

Effervescent, I thought, the rain has made the ground feel like carbonation causing bubbles and a rising up the rim of the earth to cushion my steps.

Generous was the shower.

I look closer at the petals.

Some drooping with the weight of God’s watering.

Resting.

The rain is clinging to rich green leaves and the pure white bloom is radiant.

Satiated, quenched.

Fulfilled.

“The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.””

‭‭John‬ ‭4:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Effortless, this summer’s abundant growth of flora it seems.

Waiting expectantly, the good rains have sustained the pretty colors.

When the woman at the well met the stranger, she’d been seeking satisfaction from multiple men. I am curious if she thought Jesus was just another at first.

She considered a new perspective. She was intrigued by possibility.

Jesus changed her.

Change comes that way.

We must be a willing participant, honest with our inventory of past mistakes and then willing to see ourselves in new, often briefly emotionally distressing ways.

We acknowledge what God knows of us. We are satisfied by His knowing.

We are growing as we lift our cups, chipped, stained or soiled from past spiking.

We lift our empty cups and we say.

Fill it, Lord.

Fill my cup.

Come and quench this thirsting in my soul. Fill my cup, Lord. I lift it up.

Linking up with others at FMF, prompted by the word, “willing”.

WILLING

Peace Takes Courage

The rain subsided enough to get a walk in.

I determined to pursue my daily unraveling.

The sky no longer threatening, the storm separating the colors and the background pale blue grew larger before me.

The grey only narrow stripes of color like paint laid down on a canvas, the palette knife technique.

Rain like water misted from the bottle kept to keep moist the canvas, the grey diffused.

God’s fingers like the biggest thick brush now blending, muting color.

At peace with the presentation.

The exhibit now open for my viewing.

The crepe myrtle petals are sopped like kitchen sponges and hanging low like bursting ripely fruits just waiting for my indulgence.

And it happened again.

What’s this lightness in my gait, the awareness of pep in my step and of belief I’ll take off running once I make it round the bend and just maybe take an extra hill?

Peace, I decided as I took the final home bound hill.

It’s peace that has taken the bricks from your feet.

Peace that says take your gifts and give them to whomever will listen, will read, will be curious over how you moved from burdened fighter to learner to victim no more.

A thought came clearly, I imagined myself confidently telling others.

I give God all the glory. Without God none of this would be possible for me.

Peace is possible.

Take courage.

“But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.”

‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭15:7‬ ‭ESV

Continue and believe.

Linking up with others at Five Minute Friday, prompted by the word, “Take”.

Read more here: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2019/07/04/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-take/