The Book of Luke, 24 Days of Jesus – An Advent Experience

The Time of Becoming

Advent: arrival, appearance, emergence or occurrence, the arrival of a notable person or thing.

What are you waiting for, still?

What is the light at the end of the way that you keep pursuing, going towards?

Like the shepherds followed a star, is there a possibility you hope to see still?

My word for 2018 has been “still”. In the beginning, it represented a courageous decision to pursue a certain writing goal.

That I could still, it wasn’t too late.

I’m still writing; but, changes came my way and my book idea will never be the same.

I’m in the phase of stillness, resting and listening to know, which way God, do you want me to go?”

Tell me what to say, Lord.

Continuing in the Book of Luke today, another chapter full of guidance and illustration, historical retelling of what Jesus did before he died.

My spirit has been a little weary, thoughts around trauma trying to take over. I’m recalling today that this is the year I, with the help of some strong therapy, decided I could live healed, that I could let go and be healed.

The year it became my choice to forgive.

My friend said yesterday, that evil still comes back to try to play.

I think she’s quite right, it’s Advent, the season of light and peace, it’s only natural evil creeps in, shows up even louder, harder, mean and determined.

Has to, it is harder now than before to take my peace away. I’m no longer disabled.

“When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭13:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Able to seek light and freedom, to not revisit the darkness.

To God be the glory for my emergence year, still.

Becoming me.

I’m linking up with others here at Five Minute Friday, prompted by the word, “Still”.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/12/13/fmf-link-up-still/

Level Places of One

Few chances come anymore to feel as if others are one.

Last week we had to bring in more chairs. People I had not seen in a good while and some who I had spoken to by phone but never met all arrived around the same time.

One person I had never encountered walked in bravely.

Alone, she entered a room full of strangers and found a seat cornered between two others at the corner of the table.

One other arrived a little late and I was happy he made it, told one of the regulars he’ll most likely “saunter” in.

This one elderly man, a father grieving his daughter, seated close to me smiled as if he and I shared an inside joke and whispered that was a good description of him.

I consider us friends.

The sauntering and kind gentleman called later to comment on the meeting, concerned over some of the new people, wondering if he can be available to them.

I told him I appreciate the way he helps guide the discussion and the way he’s both truthful even if hard to hear, his words as well as compassion and concern.

He thanked me.

I told him that the diversity in the stories that night, the circumstances that led to suicides and the contributing factors as well as starkly contrasting personal struggles and family make ups were evident.

But, not evidenced in any of the faces of the listeners, the words offered in comfort, comparison or even explanations possible.

It’s level ground, it’s like a mercy table, one meeting I am a part of that sees past differences and looks at the one thing.

The one thing of suicide.

One of many things I do not fully understand.

One thing I do not know.

And so I’m one with them only in my presence, one only because I am there and I’m one because neither do I understand.

I’m one with this group I lead, this group of solemn yet, steady and supportive encouragers.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The man who sauntered in closed in prayer after asking permission.

In the pause of his, I presume thinking, two ladies added their supplication. I considered being the third and all my heart could come up with was “Thank you, God for bringing these people to my life.”

I knew God would understand what I meant. I was afraid they would not.

I sat silent and I listened as the gentle man closed out his prayer for the others around the table.

Bringing the support group for those bereaved by suicide, “a club no one wants to be a member of” to a close.

Today, I’m linking up with others here, prompted by the word “One”.

One

If you or someone you know has experienced suicide loss, our group meets monthly. You can find other groups in your area by searching afsp.org.

Tomorrow is International Survivors Day. Across the country people will gather to talk, listen, be one with one another.

Info on this can be found here:

International Survivor Day

I am thankful God brought these people to me. They’ve grown me, taught me that silence is good, that I don’t always have to give my insight and that we are all one in God’s eyes, all of us humans down here.

Have This Hope

Sometimes, I’ll pray,

Jesus, be my editor.

I want to be observant of Him, my life and my art and words, purveyors of Him.

I want to cause others to consider my present hope in light of my previous trauma.

No day is the same as any single day before. Our days might be framed and arranged with similarities, coffee, and quiet and an awareness of a bird waking up outside your window, but it’s never just the same.

Our days, never the same, the exact time the birds begin to sing, their type and from whence they have flown.

The words I write, the way I consider my schedule, I’m slow and achy or optimistic or something in the middle.

I repeated a tough time yesterday; but, only in my retelling of its story.

Very clear, the memory I shared to express a time of a prayer, a plea.

It was pleasant to tell of an unpleasant time, as if an accidental reminder to myself, you got through that, you are strong.

All is well.

Just the reframing of a recollection we’d never aim to repeat.

All of our regrets, our remorse, and resentment over wrongs done us or by us.

We need only repeat them as a reference, a reference of how different we are, how decidedly committed to reframing our trials in light of knowing God saw us then and sees us now.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Pressing on, not repeating old stories, only reading the chapters of our lives, rewritten, edited by God.

Prompted to write on word “repeat”, remembering times I’ve been brought through, times I don’t ever have to repeat but will recall them in ways to carry on.

Read other thoughts on “repeat” here:  http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/11/01/fmf-link-up-repeat/

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.