Sounds of Silence

birds, confidence, contentment, courage, curiousity, Faith, Holy Spirit, mercy, Peace, Prayer, rest, Stillness, Vulnerability

I remember the Paul Simon song that tells the darkness “hello” as he comes to talk to his old friend.

Unintentionally maybe, it sure sounds like prayer. Prayer, in the way the morning sounds soothe me, similar to nighttime solitude.

The Labrador is sprawled out in front of me, his legs lifted up in the air. I don’t disturb him. He’s circled the back yard and been fed and now reclining, a routine.

The ceiling fan whirs above me, the motor, the rhythm of the blades like a chorus of humming.

The birds are harmonious today, not just one or two near the window but gathered someplace in the periphery.

Their song is subtle.

It compels quiet pause.

Later, I’ll lunch with a new friend and attend a funeral.

I’ll listen. I’ll savor the words someone who reads my words without knowing me has to offer.

I’ll be teachable. I won’t see another’s wisdom as criticism.

I will listen to the words that will honor my friend. He was wise. He was kind. Words shared of him will be worth remembering.

I’ll sit a little longer here with plans to read John’s accounts of Jesus healing unlikely people.

I’ll savor the silence that’s not really silence, just a time of gratitude for mercy again this morning.

Mercy that keeps me teachable, makes me open to others and keeps my heart open to good change.

The sound of silence, my old friend.

The atmosphere that conjured morning prayer.

Lord, help me to listen.

I’m linking up with others prompted by the word “savor”

Five Minute Friday

Once More

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, Faith, Forgiveness, freedom, love, Peace, Redemption, rest, Vulnerability

I wear a T-shirt quite often, lots of times under a sweatshirt. Soft in color and fabric, across the chest are the words, “known and loved”. Wearing it feels like my little secret, the one thing I want to remember once more.

Known by God

Once my life was different than it is today. Once there were reasons to fear. Now, there are reasons to embrace not being afraid.

The woman caught in adultery found herself on display, a crowd had shown up to see her stoning. She waited. She knew the law of Moses. She anticipated the punishment.

The men invited Jesus into the discussion, into the abuse. He invited them to consider their own wrongs and sins of a sexual nature.

Telling the group, the one of you who’s never committed such acts, you can go first, I give you permission to commence the stone throwing.

Jesus waited. He wrote in the sand as the tension must have surely risen and the onlookers waited to see which among these men was perfect.

Jesus knew.

“And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.”
‭‭John‬ ‭8:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The men turned and walked away, maybe the crowd dispersed. Jesus asked the woman if she realized what had just happened.

Her sin of adultery was known and yet, she escaped death by stoning.

He made sure she understood that she was known and loved, not known and condemned.

Once my life was different. Now I am known and loved.

She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
‭‭John‬ ‭8:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Walk in the way of forgiveness. Know your heart in light of mercy. Who we are now matters more than who we once were.

Linking up with others prompted by the word “once”.

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Once

Cake Tomorrow

Art, birthday, courage, daughters, family, mixed media painting, Motherhood, painting, wonder
January 30th – Cake With Your Mama Day

One of my favorite things to see is the expression on my son in law’s face when I talk about art or life or I’m uncharacteristically funny.

We were sharing our Saturday plans, “cake with your mama day” and the whole idea of it.

Mama baked, January 30th was her birthday, still is and so, we’ll celebrate it by eating cake and telling other people about it.

He smiles, looks at my daughter. I walk towards my car and say, I guess most people think I’m weird!

My daughter shouted back,

“No, just crazy!”

And I saw them smile and I drove away, knowing they think I’m crazy in a good way, the way God made me.

“I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:14‬ ‭TPT

Crazy for fun ideas and for sharing them?

It’s the way God designed me.

Linking up with others here prompted by “design” and I’m hoping they’ll have cake with their mama tomorrow or cake by themselves or with someone to honor her!

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Design

(Artwork above is available to purchase.)

Morning Talk

Advent, Art, contentment, courage, Faith, Labradors, Peace, Prayer, Trust, waiting

Because my mood highjacked the majority of my day yesterday, I said to myself.

“Set the tone today, self talk that’s harmful not allowed, only hope.”

So, I was awakened by a phone call that didn’t alarm as was my startled assumption.

Grand Dog

I made extra creamy coffee by mistake; groggy, I added half and half and honey times two.

I sat with the soft blanket and then invited more comfort,

Threw off the throw pillows, spread smooth the quilt, patted the couch cushion and invited the dog.

Stretched out now almost the length with his nose near my hip, I breathe, tell myself to trust, not go all despondent and frustrated over what people are saying, showing in their vacant glances about our coming days.

Sip my coffee, rest my hand on the labrador and journal loosely today’s plans.

Sit with comfort more than a moment.

Beyond this sweet sitting, remember your words.

Endure.

Continue.

Believe.

Now turn to today’s Advent Book, one that was gifted, one you’re wondering if it’s too late to order a bunch as gifts.

Embrace the day’s offering.

The one you loved on this date last year, underlines and sweet red circled words.

Sit a minute more and then, maybe breakfast then art with God, an overdue haircut later.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭40:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The book may be out of stock, it’s worth searching for.

https://g.co/kgs/E9ywBJ

I’m linking up with others through Five Minute Friday, prompted by the word “beyond”.

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Beyond

Future Plans and Surprises

bravery, Children, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, grandchildren, heaven, hope, Motherhood, Peace, Prayer, Truth, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom

I’m not sure why God, or maybe it’s life that did it, made my hopes and angst and wishes always be from the perspective of my children.

On earth as in heaven, I suppose I ask God for this. Quite often, I ask God to surprise my children, make them certain it was Him.

There are countless hopes my heart holds for them, some of them things they long for, some are ideas of my own.

I’m a mama of adult children. I can’t hold or control them. I can only pray with open hands and unnamed hopes with their names circled in my journal.

I give God control. He is a buffer of protection. He loves them more than I.

I want to know they are well and that they are loved well.

I want them (and me) to embrace heavenly things as pursuit in a time when earth is so uncertain.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I want them to see me trying, admitting it is hard and yet, waking up to try again.

Even on days and days on end when what’s ahead is unclear.

Put one step forward not backward. One step on days when a greater distance feels difficult or detoured by these crazy days.

Step forward, think forward.

Set your intentions on being intentional in the days ahead of not knowing much at all.

Considering maybe God is breaking our addiction to control this year to show us knowing everything doesn’t keep us safe.

It is only knowing Him that is safe at all.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭26:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Linking up with others prompted by the word “ahead”.

Ahead

Remembered By

Art, bravery, confidence, courage, curiousity, Faith, freedom, hope, Peace, Trust, Truth, voting, Vulnerability, wisdom

Do you make mental lists of things you’d like to be remembered by? Maybe that’s just what a sixty year old person does.

It happened again. Yesterday, my friend asked if my hair color was natural. It took a minute, I realized she was asking if I had happily resigned to go grey.

My hair is grey? Again, how did I miss this? I don’t spend a whole light of time on hair or makeup to be honest.

Makes me wonder if others say to themselves, well, Lisa retired and she just let herself go or

Maybe she relaxed into being herself.

We were outdoors on this beautiful day. I met my friend and her brother to take notes and hear the love story of the couple I’d be creating art for.

Ideas were shared, preferences in size and style. Mentions of things God has me doing through art and likeminded casual conversation about the goodness of God.

My friend’s brother listened as I shared the meaning of my life verse.

“In quietness and confidence is your strength.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

There was a pause and he spoke up, “I want to see your Bible.”

I thought of my Bible and smiled.

This morning I’m thinking of the weight of his wish, I’m thinking I may be remembered by the sketches in my Bible.

No better wish.

On this crisp morning, full moon later, Halloween and time change tomorrow, the shift is building, the tension mounting, the crucial critical day of Tuesday, voting.

But, I sit quietly. I open my Joy and Strength devotional to October 31. I read the ancient words from Deuteronomy.

Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee. Deuteronomy 8:2

This portion of a verse in a chapter headed “Remember the Lord your God”.

Words used by Moses as reminders of the forty years of wilderness, the humbling and then the provision of manna.

Remember God.

The chapter ends with a serious warning, timely for our day.

“And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭8:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’m not qualified to argue politics. I love people and I love God. Loving God, though, is my priority, my calling, my navigation.

I understand the sound of God’s gentle warning that He gives before He needs to speak more boldly.

I will heed the warning of Moses. I will take care lest I forget the Lord my God by not keeping His commandments and his rules and statutes. (Deuteronomy 8:11)

I will remember the wilderness He pulled me from and I will treasure an unexpected hope of another who reminded me of what matters when he sweetly said, “I want to see your Bible.”

Me too, Tommy,

Me too. I want to always be able to see my Bible. Even when my eyes are squinty and my hair fully silver. I want to hold my Bible in my lap, underline the exhortations, sketch in the margin faces of women like me, women God found. Women who remember.

Continue and believe.

Believe. In quiet confidence is your strength.

Sing Along

bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, hope, Peace, praise, Prayer, Redemption, rest, surrender, Vulnerability

On the morning, two Sundays ago that I decided just in time to go to church, I was honest with myself.

I’d been waiting until conditions could be right to return. I’d been waiting for the church to be in agreement with me, to not require that I wear a mask.

Church that morning enveloped me in peace. The mask that I deplore because I deplore demands made of me

Invited a sweeter worship in.

The music, the prayer, my hands open in front of me, my joining in the singing despite my mask.

I wish it weren’t so; but, I tend to be self-conscious in a sanctuary. No surprise, I compare my worship to the worship of others and I worry if others are watching me, measuring whether my praise is big enough.

But, on that morning, before the message on humility and its meaning and worth, I allowed peace to come.

Peace that came through the Spirit leading me to be alone there in the socially distanced place, to close my eyes and be moved by “The Blessing”, to welcome the tears that came. To be aware of, overwhelmed by God’s peace.

Peace comes when we acknowledge our standing in relation to God.

Peace comes when we challenge ourselves to believe we should go when we don’t think we are able or don’t believe we belong.

Peace comes when we remember,

“I am weak but He is strong.” (Yes, Jesus loves me.)

Meekness leads to peace.

Meekness leads to great things.

“Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.”
‭‭Numbers‬ ‭12:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My little circle of six feet in the sanctuary was inhabited by a sense of Holy that Sunday.

I had no idea that choosing not to be selfish, stubborn, self-righteous over a piece of cloth over my mouth, would bring me such peace.

“But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And peace shall be mine again.

I will sing along.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
‭‭Zephaniah‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Joining others who are writing prompted by the word “church” here.

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Church

What Could Happen

9/11, Abuse Survivor, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, hope, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Truth, Vulnerability

Up early and uncertain whether I had again gratefully “woken up well”, I walk outside to see the pink sky in the distance, wishing our home was set either on a hill or not bordered by tall trees and houses.

If that were so, I could see the wide morning. Instead, I look upward and the half moon is above me, surrounded by the remnant of two clouds breaking thinly away.

I wished for a different sky. I had hoped the day would bring rain.

A rainy day that could give permission for thinking, make seclusion seem more pleasant.

On this day, nineteen years ago, destruction changed our country, altered our thinking of what could happen.

For years, the color code marking threat bordered our television screens.

For days on end I wondered when it would happen again, certain that it could. Another attack by people who hated us, another planned explosion in places where people congregated.

It could happen again.

For now, there are other “coulds”, the resounding murmuring amongst one another.

Rather than explosion, I sense a subtle threat to our togetherness, I fear we are imploding, a caving in.

Don’t get too close, she may be sick. Don’t touch the door, it could have the viral contaminated touch of someone else. Don’t forget your mask, don’t let your worn out mask shift and uncover your nose.

Don’t hug the friend you encounter that you’ve not seen in years.

You could get sick, you could make others unwell. You could cause pain to others.

This predisposition to high alert stances based on what could happen is much like a phrase I’m just now embracing.

Don’t borrow trouble.

Two hours ago, I woke up too early. I was thirsty and had what my grandma called a “dull” headache. I moved from my bed to the kitchen for water.

Today, I did not pray, “thank you God, I woke up well.”

But, now I am because I was sullenly anticipating dread. I was alert to what could happen because of it happening all around me, inundated with a sense of foreboding,

A man in the Bible, mentioned just a couple of times, Jabez confronted his predisposed “could happens” with a prayer that God answered.

“Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.”
‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The mother of Jabez chose his name that meant pain and told him so, of all the brothers, his birth had caused her great pain.

Could it be so for us? That we acknowledge what harms could come our way and simply ask God to prevent them.

Knowing He can?

I’m not so naive to live the fairy tale that all pain can be avoided. This world, our country gets more angry and full of fear and evil every day.

Still, I can open my hand to heaven now and again later and say “Thank you, I am well. It is well. I will not fear. You are near.”

Like Jabez, I can set my intentions on what God can do not what could happen.

I love to think of other choices that could have been made by people in the Bible. Jabez knowing he was least likely to have a life without pain based on his name could have chosen to cower, could have accepted his position among his brothers, to be careful, to fear pain, to prepare for the worst case scenarios and so, to hide away.

He didn’t. He asked God for the ability to see opportunities, to be kept safe in his pursuit of them and to live a life from which we get the phrase, not just blessed; but, blessed indeed.

The purple flowers that seem to be summer withered have sprinkled petals heavy from humidity all along the border.

I bent over to try to see the sunrise in the distance and noticed a new thing.

The scent from the purple bloom. All summer long I’ve walked past and now almost mid-September, my attention was drawn.

The sweet smell of still hanging on, the still tint of soft indigo and lavender, the gift of finding beauty in my subdivided back yard.

The firm decision not to borrow trouble; instead to be aware of it and to ask God to keep me from it.

Then to remember, not knowing how or if or whether it was sudden.

God granted what he asked.

He will for us as well.

This truth I shall remember when I ponder “what could”.

Remember only the possibility of good.

Our lives are not what are circumstances say they are, rather they are what God says “could happen” if we trust Him.

If we continue, continue and believe.

This post was prompted by the word “could” from Five Minute Friday (I link up although I’m rarely five minutes or under in thinking or writing.) Read others’ words here:

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Could {+ free training for writers}

How Long to Possible?

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, curiousity, Faith, hope, memoir, painting, Prayer, Redemption, Teaching, Vulnerability, wisdom, writing

“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭131:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Before I felt the truth of belonging there, I observed the setting. Twice in my life, a very long time ago, it was offered to me, possibility.

The high school art classroom, the teacher who spilled her very own love of painting all over the room, she started my believing.

She was less instructor, more demonstrator of art as a comfort, as a passion. She was evidence of the balm of creativity.

The English Honors professor who was a tiny force of expectation, a petite woman

She refused to accept my errors.

I remember the desk I arrived early to take, first row, third seat back. I hated my poor appearance, I avoided the walking across any classroom.

The room was so small, desks barely able to allow my thick to me frame. Classmates so close, it was uncomfortable to have another’s skin so near. But, my grades categorized me as Honors and I had no idea why, only that this class was significant, I was taken seriously. This exclusive group now included me.

The professor scared the mess of out of me until she convinced me, it was my writing that got me there, that qualified me. Not my parents, not my appearance. My writing was my how.

Four decades in between the idea of belonging and possibility are hard things, heavy losses and other type accomplishments.

Chronicling the years between what could have figuratively and literally killed me, the question of how is not of importance.

The answer of now is the result of believing I belonged in both classrooms and in what life and God knew were my possibilities.

“…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Hope and possibility, words we value so vaguely, minimizing their power.

Think of someone, some thing in your history that pulled you close enough to listen, to believe that tiny voice of ideas and dreams unsought, unfulfilled, set aside would always be there. Then, pick it back up again, unconcerned with how, knowing you’ll treasure the day in the very near future when you decided on the possible.

In us, is the glorious hope of heaven because of Jesus. When we will fully believe, the details of our how are no issue.

Only today will matter, the day of grabbing hold of our set aside possibilities.

I’m linking up with others in a time when the “how” question is heavy and complex. How did we get here? How can we fathom it ever getting better? How can I be a difference maker? I don’t provide answers to things I don’t fully know. I can only hold fast to hope and possibilities and to be more like Jesus in all my encounters.

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: How

Where Light Is

Angels, confidence, contentment, courage, depression, Faith, hope, mercy, Prayer, rest, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting

“There are those who rebel against the light, who are not acquainted with its ways, and do not stay in its paths.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭24:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I could easily stay in my soft cushioned chair, feet propped and fan creating a breeze overhead. The worn quilt from many washings is as soft as a feather and cool against my feet.

I could stay here all day. It would be no matter, and maybe I should.

Stay in this morning spot that is the place where I’m met by mercy and reassured it has no end.

The place of the promise, begin again. The place that is quiet. The place where God informs me through my Bible or the words someone else has recorded.

Or just through the allowing myself to stay, just through my patient sitting.

Job answered his friend’s advice to agree with God and be at peace (Job 22:21) with bitter honesty. He was exhausted over not knowing why or when.

Job was confused over how God would allow his condition, how it seemed to him God was not looking or worse, looking away.

“From out of the city the dying groan, and the soul of the wounded cries for help; yet God charges no one with wrong.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭24:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The chapters of the Book of Job continue with Job’s debate with God, relentless in both his longing to understand and his commitment to believe in the majesty and knowledge of God.

Job stayed and God answered with redemption and life again.

He listened to his friends’ advising and rebuking and he implored them in his own defense.

Then, he listened to God.

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭42:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’m letting that truth linger, lessen the pressure of overthinking or demanding quick answers. I don’t need to have nor am I able to have every answer.

I’ll move from my morning place to other things God is calling me to finish.

Paintings and stories of birds and marshes and laundry.

I could easily stay in this quiet spot with God. No television and no habitual social media checking. No news debates and no high pressured conversations nudging my thoughts to write catastrophic stories.

Instead, I’ll continue.

Job gives us permission to be honest with God. To ask how long and still believe.

To continue and believe. To know the light, keep coming back and staying as long as you are able.

Linking up with others with the prompt “stay” from Five Minute Friday’s Kate Motaung

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Stay