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

Understanding Better

I wear a bracelet with a charm that encases a mustard seed in a little glass bubble.

A gift I purchased for me.

I need reminding. I need to continuously seek more understanding.

I need to allow my fingers to find and cling to it occasionally, my reminder of faith.

I’ve found a newness of a feeling.

It feels like a treasure, my new enthusiasm for understanding the kingdom of God here on earth and in heaven.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:44‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Understanding of God that both fulfills my deepest longings and increases with assurance what I believe.

I believe more than before that heaven is better than here. The great mystery of it all confounds me less and absolutely intrigues me more.

The disciples asked Jesus why he spoke in a way that included illustrations, parables?

Jesus told them it was important to him that they see.

Jesus feels the same about you and about me.

He’s intent on the increase of our understanding of him, of getting us as close to heavenly thinking as we can be.

If we only and simply even just a tiny bit in the beginning believe.

“Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:31-32‬ ‭NLT‬‬

And then we allow our beliefs to grow, we anticipate heaven while we walk more closely to God here on earth.

I’m getting better at believing, believing in what I can’t see and in the fruition of my journey and the flourishing of my faith and the gifts of God in me.

Getting better at trusting that with quiet fascination and intentional nourishment, I will see my faith and the works of my hands continue to grow.

He’s not finished with me yet. Brandon Heath

Linking up with others who are prompted by “better”

Better

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.

31 Days, Freely – Moment

Prompted, on this day 26 of 31 to write briefly (I’ll do my best.) on the word “Moment”.

Sometimes I’ll take a moment to be sure I’m correct in my understanding of the meaning of a word, or look for the definition to broaden my perspective.

I took time just now to understand “abide” because I always lean towards it meaning something like living some place or staying put and settled somewhere.

It may be that I think it’s a relative to the word abode.

No idea.

a·bide
/əˈbīd/
verb

accordance with, uphold, heed, accept, go along with, acknowledge, respect, defer to

Yesterday, I met someone who began a conversation with questions of me from the other side of a table. The room was filled with women and the bustle of many conversations.

She asked me about my choice of the phrase “quiet confidence”, eventually moving to sit beside me. We talked. We laughed and we connected.

We were interested in each others’ stories from the moment we connected.

This morning, I’m remembering how I told her it can awkward for me to have an intimate and complimentary conversation, to receive positive and powerful feedback from another.

It’s as if it’s a challenge for me to agree with another’s words that are good if they’re about me.

She said something I loved when I told her I don’t like to introduce myself as an Executive Director, it sounds so lofty, so unappealing to me, doesn’t sound like who I ever wanted to be.

She smiled and told me to accept it, to be in agreement with God’s decision to place me in a place to lead.

This morning I’ll think of it as abiding with God in his decisions to bring me to a place of leading. I’ll abide in my executive role and demonstrate my confidence because of God’s confidence in me.

Moment by moment, I’ll abide, be in agreement with God as I carry out my role in His world.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I met someone yesterday who gave me an unexpected gift. I’ve decided to accept it, acknowledge her assessment of me.

Linking with others here:

FMF – Moment

Joy, Complete

I don’t typically have tea and certainly not when it’s still so hot here. The air conditioner not working so great in my office and a deadline looming on top of disappointing decisions, I decided on tea.

I was lingering over an encounter from earlier and the nearness of our conversation making both of our disclosures so very palpable.

I wished I had a pretty cup, I’ll fix that tomorrow, heated the water anyway and washed the Christmas mug.

Opened the little envelope and understood.

Understood why I chose to have tea, the message I needed God knew. His love for me is unlimited, His ideas and plans for me are incomplete.

I have time still, no limits.

Can you imagine how differently God sees you than you most of the time see yourself?

I start and stop things because I can’t imagine the shame of not finishing so I’d just as soon not begin.

Just as soon settle for the label of just a dreamer over an accomplished doer.

I don’t think that is God’s desire, that we decide to derail His plans for us or that we doubt the possibility of their completion.

The three Books of John are brief, 2nd John having only one chapter, 13 verses.

He wrote letters, compelling them to walk in love and the chapter ended with him saying, I’m leaving you with these guidelines; but, I’m coming now to sit with you, to be with you, to look you in the eye, because I want to be sure you understand, want to be sure that your joy will be fully and amazingly complete.

“Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”

‭‭2 John‬ ‭1:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I don’t think he wanted them to take lightly all of the goodness of God, the way to live fully.

I wonder if he’d struggled too to imagine a life complete and he “got it” and wanted to tell them all “you got this too…with God, the possibilities are unlimited! Believe and your joy will be complete.”

Your joy will be consistent, wait and see, you will see redemption this side of Heaven.

Your joy can be complete.

Linking up with others on the prompt from Kate Motaung “complete” as she writes about 7 years and her joy over recording her mom’s passing in her beautiful memoir, A Place to Land. I understand, Kate. I understand.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/09/20/fmf-link-up-complete/

Jesus Made 13

I saw the suggested “thinking point”, the prompt and I thought of the chosen twelve along with the one different, Jesus, 13 an odd number, odd man out you might say.

The shaker up of things, the confronter of issues needing confronting, the consistent comforter, healer, setting himself to the side rather than on a mighty place of notice.

12, he chose to be “fishers of men”, observers of sorrow, to travel by foot, by boat, by His side.

Peter, Andrew, Matthew (Levi), John (brother of James) Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Judas, James, Thaddeus, James (the younger), Simon

12 who were the imperfect yet willing.

12 who had no idea what they were in for.

12 who were not untainted by personal flaws and failures.

12 who simply said yes.

12 maybe initially intrigued by the phenomenon of this healer, this man on a mission, this bold and powerful presence.

12 who agreed to follow and followed Him to the cross where everything changed for the 13th.

12 who saw His sacrifice for them, for us and if not changed by being with him before, knew they could surely be changed for good then.

12, occasional misfits, uncertain followers and a doubter along with a dissenter who chose death because of his disbelief.

Like us, like me.

Jesus said, come alongside me.

I will show you what God has planned.

Just follow, keep following me.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. – John 3:16-17

I’m linking up with others on the prompt of “13” for Five Minute Friday. Better than most times, I wrote freely for about 5 minutes.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/07/26/fmf-link-up-thirteen/

All Sinking

“Write prompted by the word, ocean” the Thursday tweet announced and I thought, well, that’s different, broad and seems neither inspirational or instructional in a faith kind of way.

I gave my own interpretation of something yesterday on “selfie day” being celebrated and too late, I realize now it may have been a tad bit haughty, self-righteous,

My parading my words via the social sites on how God wants our focus on Him and not our own ways and wills, our “selves”.

I mentioned how Peter stepped over the ledge of the storm shaken boat and seeing Jesus in the distance began to walk that way, forgetting his humanity and his own feet incapable of standing on the surface of the ocean, much less walking.

He remembered though and he found himself human, he realized he was just a man and he began to tremble, his legs close to folding and sinking.

Jesus helped him up, said come on…let me lead you the rest of the way.

Lord, thank you for helping me walk your way, for rescuing me from the places I’m particularly close to falling back into.

Me

My sister posted a picture yesterday of my nephew strategically getting a good swift start and diving from a cliff into some beautiful ocean somewhere I’ve never seen.

I “loved” it; but, I was jealous. I’ve seen oceans only a half a day by car and less than two States away.

Another person posted a photo of their husband, his arms wide open and she doesn’t say it; but, because the sea is a sea near the places Jesus lived, walked and prayed,

I pondered the beauty of this woman’s husband in that place.

I imagined him praying, quietly, privately praising

The ocean wide and vast and immeasurable.

My afflictions, self-pity and the like…thank God…they’re eclipsed by His glory!

How He Loves

If His grace is an ocean

We’re all sinking.

Crowder

Someone else posted a need for prayer, and I momentarily questioned it, their need or their “neediness”.

Today, I’m close again to quietly breaking up with Facebook because of all the negativity and all the unnecessary.

All of the fodder for hopelessness and questionable happiness, I’m toying with the idea of stepping away.

Social media, the place where comparison lives, tells me either my life sucks or someone else’s does and at least I’m not that crazy or that less than enough.

A seesaw of needing more and being depressed over our lack or celebrating decidedly haughtily at least I’m not as needy for notice as they are!

We judge others, we judge ourselves using glimpses, only teeny tiny glimpses of lives on screens.

In today’s, devotional from Oswald Chambers I read a stern message.

I read that Jesus tells us not to judge others, not because it’s wrong or because it doesn’t fulfill the one thing He said, we must do;

But, because we need to know this:

Our conclusions drawn of others and our methods that measure them are precisely the measures that will be used on us.

The greatest characteristic of a saint is humility, as evidenced by being able to say honestly and humbly,

“Yes, all those, as well as other evils, would have been exhibited in me if it were not for the grace of God. Therefore, I have no right to judge.

Oswald Chambers

I suppose like most things, we don’t truly get it until “it’s about us”.

Someone suggested, several times a day, we say it.

It’s not about me. It’s not about me.

Those of us who prefer the written expression over the verbal, we open our Bibles and think “Oh, this is significant, I’m enlightened now! I must say a few words and thereby possibly enlighten another.”

More careful, considerate and even calculated maybe I should be, less me.

Not condescending,

Late last night, I scrolled through the sweetest selfies on my Instagram, bubbly faces with friends and single souls smiling widely!

I regretted my judgement of the day being unnecessary.

Who am I to say?

I’m glad there’s more than an ocean full, grace.

Enough to just rightly so, fear my sinking, only to look up, look inward and recalibrate my wondering thoughts, to focus on truths of Him.

Drawn to redemption, welcomed actually.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Returning

Hello June and coffee, black.

Strong, yes, coffee and I!

Today, I’m doing something new because I was close to returning to something old.

I’ve never been to the Krispy Kreme, the new one in town. Everybody goes and today being called “Donut Day” and makin’ it nationwide, the line’ll be backed out on the busy street.

This is a place that had police directing traffic for about a week when they opened grandly.

Seriously.

I’ve never even been, I boasted with an air of pride and obvious sense of accomplishment that I had not gone crazy over the doughy glazed delights.

Yet.

Instead, I was whippin’ my car back towards home, one hand in my Chick-Fil-A kid’s meal bag and the other on the wheel.

I had my nuggets strategically in my lap and the little sweet sauce restin’ in the middle, dipping and driving, crammin’ waffle fries in my mouth.

But, hey I never stopped for donuts.

Women and food. Women and wine. Women and secrets.

Eating in the car, eating only lettuce, driving through drive-thrus and bags hidden under our seats or declining dinner, no, I’m not really hungry then tearing into bags of salty things washed down with red wine or water or Coke, or thick chunky peanut butter on thick bread washed down with cold milk…

Food, drink, secret indulgences, everything eventually not ever in moderation.

Feast or famine, go with or completely without.

Occasionally gettin’ close to being mocked by my choices.

Then gettin’ shamed, then again gettin’ strong!

We “git right”.

Today, I begin a new thing. I have had one cup of coffee, no cream, and no sugar.

I’ve read the book. I’ve bought the journal to help me track the challenge. I am doing the Whole30 reset.

I’ve seen the recipes. I’m prepared with my shopping list.

I’m praying I’ll be disciplined and the self-discipline will be the greatest challenge.

You see, I, maybe you, a woman with a whole lot on her plate and on her mind, I am courted by the fancy comforts of indulgence.

I’m coaxed into believing some things I just deserve.

I’m not hoping now, for weight loss or for even, a glowing complexion.

I’m hoping, in 30 days I’ll have stayed on track, won’t need a redo and that I will return to a place of health and wellness I haven’t known in too long a time

That I’ll not return to the places I went before, secret eating, secret living.

So, hello June and coffee, black.

I’m ready, 30 Days, Whole.

My prayer,

God, help me be disciplined. Help me return more closely to me and to thee.

“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭25:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A temple for you, my body.

Least I can do is maintain it…keep it clean and untainted by secret ingredients.

The place where my treasure lives, I’m believing it’s gonna begin to be more clear.

Honest and true, disciplined anew.

Maybe you too.

I’m prompted by the word “Return” which originally had me thinking I’ll just tell how I’m hoping to return my body to health.
   

I’m returning to rest.

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”  Isaiah 30:15 ESV

I’m afraid it’s impossible for me to write “unbravely”.

Lord help me; but, I have a hard time not telling my story,

my healing from disorder, eating and other.

Visit Five Minute Friday here: http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/05/31/fmf-link-up-return/

Contentment, a Choice

Towards the end of my walk sans Labrador and with instruction in my ears,

I took the trail instead of the cul de sac.

I gave up one thing already, an obligation accepted because someone thought I’d be good at its demands.

I didn’t paint a pretty or pitiful reason why I’d be quitting, simply said not for me anymore. Here’s what I accomplished, it was small, happy I could help meet a need. Now, you’ll need to find someone else.

I was truthful, confident in my choice of no.

Done. Accepted promptly and the reply was with gratitude.

I’d waited a month to tell them, Lord knows why.

Podcast almost done, one about the secret to contentment.

The voice in my ears started with a story of seasons in our lives when we’re so focused on the attainment of something to complete us, striving towards what we decide will be satisfying and then realizing why on earth did I push so stubbornly and steady towards what I know now didn’t shine so brightly after all.

Did that, done, what now, what next?

What can I do that might finally feel well done?

I’ve heard it before. The secret to a full life is learning to live in the moment, to be satisfied where you’re standing, to be content no matter the circumstances.

I listened as the podcast voice reminded of Paul’s teaching to those in Corinth and in Philippi.

His life, the fodder of many a memory verse, he learned to be content.

He learned. He learned through his mistakes. He paid attention to his times better, not worse.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I approached the place where the anonymous dog barks incessantly, longing to know the footfall on the trail encroaching on his property.

I barely hear it; yet, I know he’s growling, struggling to break down the fence. I know he’ll keep barking, following me til I’m far from his fence.

I don’t hear him the same. The words in my ear, wisdom and better.

I turned just in time to see the way the sun was laying down its shadow on the open field, deciding it was good for me to walk this way today.

The right thing to choose long walk with a chance of a storm over a crosstown drive for a night of boot camp with the trainer.

It was good that I paid attention and I chose the other.

Later, I sent an email, informing an editor that June would be my last monthly contribution, explained to her I was trying to free up some space so that I could hear God’s plan more clearly, trying to make sure my focus is His.

Many will miss my column, the sweet ladies will wonder why. They’d grown accustomed to anticipating my picture in the paper and found it somehow celebrity like.

I realized I did too.

So, the secret to contentment is less me more Jesus.

Less believing that achievement and recognition will equal satisfaction. More realization of the thing that feeds my soul and enlightens my mind.

More quiet, being content no matter the notice of others, knowing so much more surely and unending I’m noticed by God.

Contentment, I’m reminded does not come naturally. It’s something we come back to because we remember how it feels.

We remember to be satisfied in so very little of what we say, do, aspire towards or even are recognized for.

We learn it’s not about us and we stay as surely as this crazy world allows in that place where the light came in, the place where God was illumined quite beautifully and clearly.

We give up being responsible for creating it.

We stop striving, cease controlling and we shield our ears from critical, chaotic or demanding requests like the bark of angry dog.

We learn to hear,

to fix our focus, the secret to being content, our choosing.

I’m prompted by the Five Minute Friday word, “Secret” and I always hope I can stop at five minutes, but never do: full disclosure.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/05/17/fmf-link-up-secret/

Still I couldn’t help but think of contentment and the secret to keeping it.