How Much We Need

“ …there is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below.”

‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭8:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I would stand close by and wait, watch and contribute as I was told.

My mama, in her kitchen, I watched as she prepped the meat for the main meal to add a pound cake for later.

In the intervals of ingredients, she rarely gave a measure.

She’d answer with “that’s enough” or “a little more”.

Rarely did she let me add too much. She knew that wound spoil it all. The flour would be mixed with the sugar. It would be impossible to separate the two.

We would have to start over.

In all my years of helping bake cake, that was never the case.

The measure of the two ingredients was always enough to take the next step, to add in the eggs one at a time and the butter.

The cake came out right. Consistently moist with the sweet thick light brown crust.

This morning I made a list of three things I’d like to believe without interruption, three things that would never go away, be not enough.

“You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

  1. Self-control
  2. Belief in possibility
  3. Assurance of God’s love

Someone may be reading this and asking how is it that she doesn’t know these things?

I sat just now and countered each need with truth. Because see, in this world we live in the stuff that gets mixed in gets us mixed up.

Self-control is my decision. Every decision begins with a thought. God’s spirit will be my guide.

“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NLT

All things are possible. This truth is for me. It is God’s desire that I allow my heart, not my mind, to lead.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God’s love is immeasurable. It is unwavering.

“No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:39‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I told someone yesterday I’ve been dreaming about my mama. I told her I think it’s because my daughter’s about to have a baby. She smiled and added she thinks that’s so sweet. I told her she’d understand one day, for her I hope it’s not soon.

Longing is immeasurable. Memories are a beautiful thing. God made me to remember us in the kitchen and her famous pound cake.

And he led me to consider the comfort of having enough.

Not too much.

He led me as if my mama and He had been in intimate conversation and they both decided.

Look now, she’s about to give in. She’s about to be pitiful again. She’s about to let doubt ruin the batter, she’s leaning closely towards throwing out the good ingredients and deciding she might never bake a good cake, create a story or a painting again!

Can I tell you one thing for sure?

He knows. He knows our tendencies and stands close by saying, let’s don’t go that way again.

I’m rising now from my morning spot on a day I am calling “sick” and I will get busy with the good things God has started in me and then I’ll go and try my best to get the ingredients for my mama’s unwritten recipe.

I have a cake to bake!

Thank you Jesus and mama, for teaching me.

Continue and believe.

I’m afraid I never follow the five minute rule. Still, I appreciate the prompt, so I’m linking up with others prompted by the word “measure”.

Measure

Stepping Out to Wait

Thomas asked Jesus where on earth they were going and how can we get there if I don’t know the way and Jesus answered saying stay with me, go with me, I’ll show you.

I am the way, the truth,

the life. John 14: 6

Last week one gentleman told me he was proud of me for “stepping out” and that our paths may cross again. He’s a retired magazine publicist.

Another who was formerly my boss; but, always my friend listened as I shared my current “leaps of faith” and later ended his kind note with “I admire your faith.”

Both of them I sat with and shared my coming changes, my uncertainty of what will be and my peace that I am choosing rightly, to move into a new season and allow God to develop the rest of my story.

Be patient til your wings are grown. St. Francis de Sauls

Kate Motaung and Shannon Popkin have responded to the question agonized over by me and other writers hoping to gain an audience, hoping for eventual publication.

Their new book is an important one for naive and introverted women like me, ones who are known to be quiet.

Influence, Building a Platform that Elevates Jesus, Not Me

How to navigate the work of making yourself known so that others will know what you know of Jesus.

Some time ago I was on the launch team for Kate’s Book, A Place to Land, a Story of Longing and Belonging.

I knew of Kate because I participated in her 5 minute Friday link-ups as a way to conjure up words for writing and deep down inside, hope somebody, just anybody might notice me, my words.

Occasionally they did and occasionally they still do.

I’m not really the “community” type one, I keep to myself. I’m known for saying I am so tired of “peopling”.

I am believing this will be different in my new season people.

I have continued to read Kate’s work, posts and the helpful encouragement in my mailbox. She responds to my questions about writing. She responds so promptly! (Something I personally love)

I’ve gone from yearning to have a writing life similar to hers (sorry, Kate, for a little bit, I was jealous) to believing her advice and seeing I can have a writing life of my own.

Kate Motaung has influenced me.

But, back to the question over putting myself out there or just cowering in my corner hoping somehow some reader might stumble upon me, my words and pronounce me worthy of reading…

This is the imprint of my childhood. Do not ask for anything, pretend you can do life without attention or recognition, don’t seek to be noticed or noteworthy.

In a time when we are inundated with attention seekers, social media places becoming outlets and a grasping for just one other person to know, there’s new pressure of deciding to stay quiet, to stay in “our own lanes”, at least I feel it is so.

I am learning slowly, the best way, not everyone cares about what I say.

And that is okay.

Some do and tell you so, adding comments like “please don’t stop, you’re the first thing I read everyday!”.

But, the curious, voyeur-type readers of my instagram or my blog who scope me out and quietly slink away…

These are the ones that hinder me.

That cause me to question my goals.

These are the ones that read and I imagine are saying, “Why does she think she is supposed to write this way or who is she to think she has something important for others to know?”

I’m afraid these are people by whom I am personally known.

Is it this way for others? I wonder.

They’re probably just busy; but my little girl unnoticed feels insignificant so often, the imprint of insignificance trying to hold on.

Less often and increasingly so, I have readers leave comments or people who say “I needed that.” or “How did you know?”

They thank me for being brave, honest, for saying and writing about a pain they may have known or know.

These readers encourage me to continue, to grow.

To grow in ways like joining Hope*Writers, being brave enough to be with others.

To believe the words God gives me from my experiences and my perspective are mine and mine alone; but, they are words someone else may need.

That someone might have a similar heartache, a breakthrough type epiphany on grace or even may find a new way to connect with Jesus through my interpretation of a parable or passage something to which we both relate.

Kate wrote of her mother’s death.

She and I have a similar story although vastly different.

My mother passed away nine years ago yesterday. I was in a fairly new position and living two hours away. Kate was in another country, airline flights away. We both set other things aside to be with our mamas.

Gut wrenching and emergent interrupted days, we held onto the time we had left even though our hearts longed for more. For me, at least, I always longed for and thought there would be more.

I treasure our bonding through her words, her description of the drawing of her heart to be beside her mother, the angst over not being able to be constantly near and the utter helplessness and surrender to our lack of control.

The realization of this lack when I had returned home too early and I got “the call”.

Others may have read Kate’s story and gained so much more or been impacted in a different way.

That’s the power of our stories.

Today, I am trying to lean in to where God wants my writing to go.

The balance between letting go and continuing are much like my battle of being known and staying in my place.

Much like stepping out to wait.

I know that if I continue I won’t even look the same because my heart will be open to where God takes me, the story He is developing no longer hidden.

I’ll be different, I’ll be the me that God has always seen, has kept purposely through so much trauma and self-destructive “dis” grace.

My note to self of late?

Continue and Believe. me

A good starting place for a newsletter or a book title, I perceive.

For now it’s for stepping forward to see what God has for me to share and to increase my believing so that others will believe.

This, I believe, is what God means by influence.

I’m linking my thoughts up with others on this topic of thoughts and childhood labels and hindrances to pursuing platforms so that our writing voice might grow.

join in here: Thoughts on Platform Building

Thanks so much, Kate!

31 Days, Freely – Believe

My mama never kept a journal or to my knowledge, wrote thoughts in a Bible.

So, I can’t say I “get that from my mama”.

She’d rather speak her truths to you, long conversations with time in between her phrases to let what she’d given you sink in. Look you in the eye or leave something with you and look away, walk away like that’s it, now I’m puttin’ a period there.

I believe every single thing she ever said.

Lots of times there was no acceptable reply, either she’d put me in my place or I had to just keep my mouth shut and let the sometimes unwelcome truth sink in.

She was resilient.

She believed in the possibility of everything working out for good despite so much wrong she endured.

She rarely quoted scripture, just paraphrased God’s truths in her own no holds barred way. Some would call it irreverent, her language was generous with cuss words.

I don’t think she aspired to write and I rarely recall a book in her lap, she’d rather be one with people, one with life.

She talked about books in a different way, telling me “turn the page, Lisa Anne.” when I kept mulling over some misdeed or misfortune.

She was quick to give her commentary on all that might be wrong or someone’s crazy choices or just mean motives.

She’d say “They’re not reading the right book or they’re not on the same page.”

I know she had a Bible. I know because it was mine and towards the end of her days I noticed it moved from the stack of old Southern Living magazines to the place in front of her where she’d fall asleep with the noise of Fox news.

I know she believed. I know she wanted us all, the four of us to always believe.

To pray, believing more often than beckoning or begging.

To smile, thinking how far we’ve all come and how far she and daddy got to see us go and grow.

Yesterday, I had an encounter with someone who has changed. A distant person who acknowledged her resistance towards relationship, she stopped by to give me a book.

She had a cold, I’d had to same one, I shared. She let me hug her and she hugged me back.

We walked out and I told her she’d reminded me of a new favorite word, “countenance”.

She was puzzled, said she had never heard it before and I told her I thought it might be biblical but that it’s such a beautiful word, a beautiful thing to see.

I explained that it means to me, your sweet soul is shining through, the change in expression showing so pretty on your face.

She thanked me twice, and more.

I thanked her for stopping by.

Thanking her and God now for reminding me of my mama.

Reminding me to choose believing.

Believing God is so very good.

“Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.””

‭‭John‬ ‭16:32-33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And to “live life today”, and then tomorrow live and believe again as you “turn the page”.

My mama’s stubborn resilience and God’s unwavering and believable peace and grace, I’m believing in both today.

Book Review : A Place to Land, A Story of Longing and Belonging

I believe empathy should have another name, a word that’s descriptive without the clinical tone. I believe empathy, the word, should sound softer, a whispered acknowledging tone.

Empathy, whether you’re the giver or the receiver, an exchange really, is human hearts trading places.

I’ve finished Kate Motaung’s book and considered the technique of allowing the pages to fall open, deciding this is the place I should write of my connection with this story.

Still, each time I sought redirection, I wound up in the same place, the place we had in common, the place and time when grace filled the room.

Years ago, it was the most pitifully powerful memory I’d ever known.

Still is the most powerful, not pitiful or pity filled any longer.

The day was Christmas and the drive was three hours one way. My husband, the children, there was no discussion, we were going to see mama.

We arrived at the hospital and the nurse said, “She’s waiting.”

Her body was weak, her organs were weaker; but, she was expecting us. Her hair had been styled and she had on the most delicate of nightgowns I’d ever seen, more beautiful than any I’d ever known her to own.

She smiled. She “made over” my daughter and my son. She encouraged them, she reminded, she laughed a little, she gave them direction.

We gave her the gifts we’d brought and I remember that she thought my siblings might come later and my aunt had come and she had an expression of pure love and acceptance of whatever gift or not might be given.

She grew tired and it seemed we grew awkward, like clumsy adolescents not being sure what to do with our hands, none of us knew what to with our hearts.

A hospital room on Christmas Day and an hour or so with my mama and then three hours back home with little talk only uncertain sadness.

This was my mama’s last Christmas. I have never seen her more glowing, never seen her so resigned and simply open to come what may or may not.

I read Kate Motaung’s account of her mother’s cancer diagnosis and of her longing to be with her but, committed to stay on God’s course, a missionary in another country.

I was overjoyed by her telling of her mother’s travels to visit. I envisioned her love for Kate and her family and her maybe stubbornness to be with her daughter, to welcome babies, to leave them with good words and wisdom.

I smiled as I read of the trips for ice cream and the times her mama, weak and unable to be strong on her own, had a zest for life and humor, I could see them together making memories.

The mother giving all she had until she could give no more all for the sake of her children. I understood.

I struggled to imagine being so very far away and then realized prayer has no limits. God doesn’t set parameters as if to say oh, no the prayer you said well it’s way too far for the one you want it to help.

No, God is Sovereign. A mama three days away is no different from one three hours away when our living Father hears the supplication of a loving daughter, asking for mercy for her mama, and grace for the times together.

Towards the end of the book, Chapter 20 is titled “Grace”.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There’s a surprise trip to visit her, to return from Cape Town, Africa to Michigan.

Her mama’s condo smelled of cookies. The machinery all around, sustaining her breathing and yet, there were fresh cookies.

I wandered then if her mama baked cakes and made pot roast and potatoes and I decided for myself, I believe she did.

The chapter ends with celebration; she, her mama and her sister, memories, more laughter, hysterical laughter.

And a realization.

And it was grace. Kate Motaung

“A Place to Land” is a comfort, it’s consolation and it’s a telling and retelling of a daughter’s unwavering confidence in God.

Mostly, for me it’s a beautiful gift of grace, grace her mother gave, and grace that surrounded her and guided her home.

Guided her daughter through grief to be able to share.

To have other “motherless daughters” understand, be understood.

This book to me, it was grace.

Empathy’s new explanation, I’ve decided.

It’s grace, grace from one who understands shared with another.

Thanks for understanding, Kate.

Purchase your copy here:

Closer to Love

I wonder if your first waking thoughts are placed there mid sleeping and waking by God as His way to say,

“Begin again, let’s go!

Follow my lead, follow your leader.

Follow your heart, your soul.”

I woke, thrilled to have slept past 7 and kept my eyes closed for a few minutes.

Did not reach for my phone.

I thought and thought again,

“Stop looking for likes.”

Then wrote it down, hoping it more deeply would sink in.

I’ve just spent almost an hour in between making breakfast and coffee and conversation about new cars with my husband, tracking down which blog post was most “liked”.

It was in 2014 and it was entitled “not knowing”. It was about my children and God and well, being okay with not knowing.

Stats show which day is best, which theme more enticing and I suppose which posts are so good that people click the little star that says “like”.

Actually, I don’t have a whole lot of “likes”. I do have a lots of views and viewers and some commenters who I always thank “for reading my words” and mean it, sincerely.

I was curious, then got weary of discerning my “likers” based on my stats.

What I saw was my life since 2014, I saw God’s guiding, his pulling me from the ditch of doubt, His rescuing me before I fall too far from the pit of pride and pedestal.

So, I’m more settled, less seeking and more set on seeing me as God sees me and

“likes” me.

Prayerful, this morning in my journal about writing for “Daughters of the Deep” and for Lisa Brittain’s “Saturday Shares” and other places my soul feels led and prompted by prayer and the Holy Spirit.

Places and people who I’d never encounter were it not for words and God, women like Nan Jones, women who write and women who don’t write; but, surely are praying. I am worried other making a list, it’s so vast, I’d surely forget one or two or three who make up my “community”.

This morning I read from My Utmost for His Highest and the thoughts are lingering and lined up, as did the other words and verses established for today.

I’m getting closer every day to the me God sees.

Not yet arrived, surely on my way though.

Noticing and embracing words like these, believing waking thoughts as God’s instruction and loving affirmation.

As you journey with God, the only thing He intends to be clear is the way He deals with your soul.

My Utmost for His Highest devotion

Closer to love.

Closer to God and speaking more bravely.

Two times last week, I believe my words came as a surprise to others (and me).

I’m so glad God brought you into my life.

Me, through God

The first time, a crowded restaurant and as a goodbye to our unplanned encounter.

The second, a parking lot after “so happy to run into you” send off.

Both times, I was sure in my saying so and both times, the ones who were with me, their smiles spread wide as the sky and we parted, all of us thinking of God.

So, if you’re reading this,

I’m so glad brought you into my life. So happy He brought us both here. me

Purpose and Possibility

I woke excited to know the possibility. 

One of many, I am sure; still, it could be me. I wrote a brave story and followed the instructions for a literary competition. 

Added writing the essay that initially was soft and spoke of childhood to the list in the margin of my calendar called “to do”. 

I’ll know in a few days. I’ll know to be afraid or relieved,  emotionally giddy over being chosen or a bit scared of being seen and hoping to hide behind my grandma like a little girl afraid. 

Either way, there’s a purpose for the outcome. I know this to be true because I asked it to be so. 

Prayed, Lord I am taking this next step you have “purposed” me for and I will see you all along the journey. 

Purposeful, everything is. 

Opened the cabinet for a cup and see it there, little black mug with letters painted white to remind…plans and purpose, not for harm.

For good.  Time will reveal what good will come. May be simply the knowledge of taking the brave next step to make the next one more brave. 

Or maybe it will as my friend promised, the purpose of the shedding light on dark places hidden so I am free, more free than I have been. 

A beautiful and sweet, purposeful free. 

Linking up here: http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/