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

Treasure

image

I have sort of a secret. It’s more than sorta personal, the kind of thing you hesitate tell somebody or somebodies because there’s no way their reaction will honor the beauty of what’s been shared.

So, it’s been over a month now since this thing happened. I’ve recorded its occurrence in my journal, they way it appeared least expectedly.

The answer to a prayer while walking one evening. I’ve had answered prayers before, big, heavy and hard ones I’ve laid out before God, mostly about my children,

Rarely, so boldly about me.

I prayed that miserably hot afternoon, “Lord, is it your will that I write this book?” (I almost left the word “book” out here, doubts, fear, etc. saying don’t put that out there…don’t be so brave, keep it to yourself). The talk with God rambled on as I walked.

“Lord, I don’t want to think the way I’ve always thought. Maybe, deep down I don’t believe it’s possible. I believe it’s only a dream and this battle between believing it possible and fearing failure is strong.

So, Father I’m asking,  do you want me to follow through, is writing a book a part of your plan for me?”

Walked on, relieved to have gotten it all out in the open. Better for being straight with God, like finally breaking the silent treatment with your spouse, the tension of what needed to be said is lifted.

It’s a start, at least towards good.

You say what you need to say and decide to just carry on regardless.

Not like a limbo state, just a sense of okay either way. Might seem like nothing but at least your load’s been lifted.

And now, I ramble.

The morning after the walk and talk, I do my normal sitting, reading, praying and lingering.

Typical morning, same routine and route.

Heading in to the office, good music, traffic info and some talk of events on the radio.

Then a word out of nowhere. Something I heard, crazy I couldn’t remember why or when.

“Treasure” it said and rested in my mind.

“Treasure”

“Treasure”

“This is your treasure, Lisa. This is your ability, your opportunity. This is your thing, I planted there, a tiny thing that you’re only beginning to see. But, you see it now because you’ve gotten quiet. You see it now, because you’ve gotten loud and unafraid about it. You see it now because it won’t let you not see it. Don’t conceal it any longer.

This is your treasure. This is your treasure. The thing you carry around with you everyday, embrace it some days and fear it others…the thing you’re crazy excited to do and the thing that you’re terrified of.

This is your treasure, it has great significance.”

i heard God’s  voice. It’s impossible to minimize this experience or to detail it in a way that matches its reality and quiet awe.  It was real, not spectacular, just real.

It was His answer and so, I will write the stories, compile them with grace, with brave and honest recollections, “The Colors of my Bible” will be its title.

Because, six months ago, I scribbled this hurried question across the page of my journal. Writing the words in an anxious “gotta write this down before I decide it’s too heavy to write…to even think!”

“Lisa, what if it is God’s will for you to write a book…200 pages or so…and one person, maybe two connects with your story and has hope, understands God more clearly, believes in redemption in a way that’s not just a word for others?  Isn’t that enough? Wouldn’t that be more than enough? “

So, continue. Finish. This is your treasure, honor it. Write God’s book.

This is your Treasure in you, a humble and hesitant jar of earthly clay, created by God.

 

 

little sayings big thoughts

 

Closer to God

Closer to God

I cannot remember when, but someone complimented, noticed my faith.

I wish I could remember, just a conversation in passing I think.

I thanked them….said “I’m a work in progress.” Because I am.

Progress not perfection.

Doubtful but not nearly as often doubting God.

And lately, I say “Time will tell” about most everything.

And I’ve said “God has a plan.”

in response to unknowns so many times a day I should be constantly at rest, in submission.

And I recall my best stance, my life verse, the Lisa God knows best,  God made this way.

Quietly confident…resting strongly.  Isaiah 30:15

I woke this morning and thought of prayer. Can’t see, can’t touch, can’t measure…like faith it is most real in the looking back, the remembering of the written, the spoken, the thought, the mentioned to God, to friend, just to self.  I thought of my frustrations, my drive to intervene, to fix, to shed light on an unfair turn of events.

My prayer,  my thoughts,  my surrender. God answered. He convicted. The unfair and upsetting became fair and possible.

I had rested. I had waited. I am waiting more often.

I am drawing near, staying near.

Refusing to doubt.

Doing what I can…letting God do the rest.

Little sayings.

Big thoughts.

Early morning brings a prayer of clarity:

Lord, remind me of the gift of coming back to you. Remind me of  clarity and of your sovereignty. Keep me aware of the joy of quiet. Make me an example to others of the blessing of trust, of confident quiet. Give me simple, yet powerful boldness in declaring your mercy and your grace and Lord, most of all, thank you for loving me in the times  my prayers are  angry, rambling, frustrated, and disheartened. I thank you Lord, for the gift of quiet, for this is when I see, I feel, I recognize…

You were listening.

In Jesus name, Amen.

 

The catalyst, Colt

Photo credit - my beautiful school teacher daughter aka the Dog Whisperer

Photo credit – my beautiful school teacher daughter aka the Dog Whisperer

Most situations, crises, questions to be answered, issues resolved have a turning point…a turning of stubborn will or surrender and acceptance.

A tipping point, catalyst, straw- breaking camel’s back revelation.

Colt, a chocolate lab was I thought, the catalyst for us.

He almost went back to the shelter.

Me, in “I’ll show you.” mode.

My stubborn, I’ll show you ways almost made a point.

More than surrendering a shelter dog.

So much more about to be thrown back, given up on.

I am prone to making points and then quietly walking away.

Points that solve very little but make big statements.

Statements that say, “No more!  I am standing up for me!”.

Statements that are quick and decisive, for the sake of the upper hand.

Years of trauma make acceptance and waiting hard.

We kept Colt.

The catalyst, not a breaking point.

He’s settled in. So have I.

Into a bending.

A beautiful bending, a “Keeping”

Colt, the catalyst, the big change.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him. Isaiah 30:18

Sharing my Heart

 

Show your heart

Show your heart, crows feet, age spots and scars

Yesterday was the Monday we all love. The day off that falls after the Christmas and New Year’s days off.  It always feels to me like a gift, as if the timing of the date knows we all got spoiled rotten in the holidays, school out, time at home, cold outside, just lounging days after Christmas.

A day off from work in January is a sweet grace period before we really step up our game for the new and resolute year!

Of course, yesterday, an observance of a powerful leader who spoke of peace and rest, not strife and unrest made it even more appropriate that we “pause” in January on a day off from work.

However, at 8:30 ish, I get a text saying ” I need you.”

The nonprofit agency I oversee operates a homeless shelter for single mothers and their children. We embrace our families and facilitate lasting change for them.

Our mission. Pretty effective words, right?

Outcomes based and inputs focused…all the language of grantors, corporate or otherwise. I have a reputation of doing my absolute best to do what I say. Employees know this foundational truth about me.

And I do try.

Our approach is to help women acknowledge their role in homelessness along with the bad hand life may have dealt them. Staff ( I am blessed) who have just the right combination of empathy and structure spend at a minimum of  an hour a week, just talking about challenges, setting attainable goals.

Still, just as we all come with our scars, many of the women have deep, deep scars resulting in a closed off and protective approach.

Scars, no matter how scabbed over can be ugly.

Trauma has a way of hardening, hiding and disguising hearts. That way, they can’t be broken again.

Yesterday, I sat with a mama who had decided she was not going to talk to us anymore. She was going to bide her time and avoid a certain key staff member. Something had been said and even though the staff member apologized profusely, she was not going to budge.

Unfortunately, because Nurture Home requires meetings with staff, this refusal, going on a couple of weeks now, would not be tolerated.

I would need to tell her she and her children were being discharged.

Arriving at the shelter, tension filled and unpleasant, I first talked with the children and mama’s. All were situated in the den, braiding daughter’s hair, little girls braiding their baby dolls hair. One mama working on a job application while her son played a game. I simply said in front of the children, “I know there has been some yelling and some people have been angry…that is not good.”

I spoke, to the boys and girls, homeless and afraid, and told them that I knew they needed a calm house to live in, so I’m going to do my best for our house to stay that way.

Children who experience trauma, unrest, instability are keenly aware of the dynamics, the mood, the possible violence in their home. They are skilled at trying to determine what’s next, how to stay safe.

I know.  I was one of those children.

So, I promised them that we want them to be happy and not worry while they are living in our shelter.

The 7 yr. Old raised her hand and said,  “I have something to say, I’m happy, because I have a home. Nurture Home is my home.”

And then, she asked if I could braid her doll’s hair.

Still, the angry mama was not budging. Her heels were dug in and she refused to talk with staff. She and three children, one who sat next to me, head resting against my chest, would be leaving.

So, we gathered for our “one on one”. We talked about what the staff member had done that she would not forgive. The decision had been made, she and her children will leave at the end of week.

I told her that I didn’t want her to leave without talking things through with the staff member before leaving.

Because, I said, I know what you are doing. If you are angry and if you stay angry and leave, you don’t have to trust again.

You don’t have to take the chance of being disappointed by another person you thought cared.

And then, I did the thing that’s taboo in my work.

 Self-disclosure…”don’t let your clients see your insecurities…they’ll use it against you, you’ll lose your power.”

I disagree. If my struggle is not used for good…it’s stays just that, my struggle, my pain, my scar.

I asked her to look at me and I said. “If you leave Nurture Home because you are afraid to trust, we have failed you. I see what you’re doing. We all have ways of protecting our hearts.  My childhood taught me to stay in the background, not cause problems, never challenge anyone who mistreated me. I stayed safe that way along time”, I told her.

“That’s not safe. That’s trapped. The victory is in being vulnerable and courageous at the same time, not tolerating bad, but being open to good”.

She cried. I held her. She cried again. I told her,  ” I don’t want to discharge you.”  “I don’t want to leave.” She said through tears.

Where is it safe to share your heart?

Go there.

Reading my Book

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Believing in me, inside out

Years ago, I imagined the most phenomenal breakthrough of breakthroughs to free myself from memories of trauma. I didn’t tell too many people because I realized they would wonder  “Why in the world does she think that way?”

I believe some people, knowing I put a whole lot of thought into this solution,  realized how serious I was…probably were sad for me that I would go to such extremes. Some avoided me.

Some, most likely reacted to the honesty of my revelation of trauma and saw me in a different light. Perhaps, even found me courageous for making it through. Maybe they treasured that dim little strip of brightness they saw in me not always overshadowed by the dark recollections of pain.

My idea, a medical procedure, brain surgery to identify and extract the section that stored traumatic memories, the ones that overshadowed, blocked out anything good.

The memories that would catch fire and destroy good days with the match strike of some unintentional trigger.

Essentially,  a lobotomy of the chunk of brain storing memories that kept me focused on what couldn’t be, of memories that spoke so loudly of my lack, my struggle to move towards enough…contented and deserving of good, of confident days.

I haven’t thought of my memory removing procedure in years. My memories are me, they are in every chapter of my book. The tragedy, dysfunction, and fearful pieces of my story are the scripture of my book.

My memories are for good, for declaration of authentic  “Grace of God saved me”  moments!

My memories are the words, lines, chapters in my book. Honest and open, drawing in the reader of my book.

Writing my book?

No,  not yet. But closer to trying. To feeling capable and worthy.

Right now, I’m  Reading my Book.

I’m really glad nobody tore any  of the pages out.

I can rest. The Lord has been so good to me, saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. Psalm 116:  7-8