“work in progress”, the words float on a cool artist video to give a glimpse into an artist’s current work. Funny, I’ve posted pics like this. I’m sort of old I guess, so I’m not one for sharing me talking into my phone and I’m not tech savvy enough (yet) to share a video of my actual process of painting.
It’s become the norm for me to wake with a lyric or a verse. I know the song and it sets my tone. I open my Bible app and search for the verse if other thoughts don’t get me off course.
The promise of today is bright sunshine and the Labrador returns with the ball jammed into his cheek. I step outside and decide just a couple of tosses. It’s still too cold, early Friday morning.
He’s satisfied and so am I. I turn to go inside, my feet numb from the cold hard ground and I see the beauty of what seems to be an overnight changing to green.
I find myself wondering if God is aware. Of my waking on a Friday morning after sleeping hard from unacknowledged exhaustion.
Did God know I’d wake up with the words to a song by J.J. Heller, “You Already Know”? (Yes, I adore her.) Did God know I’d be standing barefoot and I’d listen to Him reminding me of the dangers of comparison?
Does God know how many blades of grass surround my feet? Is he aware of every rain drenched fallen camellia? I believe so.
“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:30-31 ESV
We are important to God. Courage and trust are the evidence of our embracing this as belief.
Hagar, a pregnant mistress in the Old Testament, used by others to fulfill a longing, felt abandoned, rejected, unnecessary. She longed to escape the bitter condemnation of Sarah. She fled into the wilderness.
God met her there. He pointed out the water she’d been thirsting for.
I wondered this morning if she’d been standing near the flow of water and couldn’t hear it or if she’d become so worried, afraid, confused and maybe angry over how her life’s direction had pointed towards self-destruction, that she couldn’t see the provision of God waiting there.
So, God pointed it out. She was changed by seeing that she’d been seen herself.
“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”” Genesis 16:13 ESV
In a few weeks, a children’s book illustrated and written by me will be available. I may have chances to share its backstory, a story I only recently realized but God already knew.
“Look At The Birds” is a book born of talks with my granddaughter about birds and talks between God and me about worry, worth and trust.
It’s a book with a mission of helping children understand their value is determined by Jesus and no one or no place else.
It’s a message God longed for me, the wife, the mother, grandmother, the author, the artist, to begin to finally embrace.
This thought became a decision this morning. I woke happily relieved of a restless night that included a horribly realistic dream.
I was pleasantly awakened by the slight sound of “ding”. It reminded me of a whisper, maybe a mama coming close, saying “Sweetie, it’s time to get up.”
Expecting a photo of my granddaughter, I reached for the phone, slid it under the covers so I wouldn’t wake my husband.
Instead of a photo, it was a message from someone who messages me each year a couple of days before my birthday. Each year, the message includes “Toward”.
I open it to enjoy a video of Schroeder from the Peanuts at the piano playing a classical version of the birthday song. Lucy barges in and wants to sit next to him. He says no and she huffs away complaining something akin to creatives needing their space!
I turned towards the glow of morning and opened my palm to give God today, to ask for His guiding.
The birds were uplifting in the tone of their chirping as I sat to journal. This too, I welcomed.
It was time to make sense of the nightmare, time to process it and take what good I could from a vivid story, someone trying to once and for all kill me and me imploring them.
“No, things are better. Things are different.”
I spoke those words to the evil in my sleep.
I woke and remembered the horrible parts along with the prayers I’d prayed just yesterday in my private place.
I’d listened to a podcast about miracles. It stuck with me that we can be bold in our asking; but, first we must let go any unforgiveness.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:24-25 ESV
I prayed that way yesterday, forgiving people and forgiving behaviors.
Forgive me for my failures as I forgive those who failed me.
The day continued well and then the inability to sleep followed by the scary reminiscent dream.
I steadied my mind and set my intentions on “toward” as I wrote a note to myself. “What can I take from this?”
In the quiet, God answered.
I have no doubt it was Him.
In the nightmare, my words were clear. I was not silenced by the offender.
I spoke firmly and said. “But things are better, you don’t have to harm me anymore.”
Hearing my own voice was significant, I realized and different than the nightmares of before.
Better is believing God.
Better is believing in my very own prayers, my voice. Better is being confident that God has more power than the forces of harm.
Two separate podcasts and a birthday message sealed the deal of this hopeful conversation between God and me.
A podcast on the Lord’s Prayer reminding me of God as my loving father, a podcast about deciding to be “with” God, a God of miracles in every endeavor.
Both were reassuring of the good God I love and who loves me.
My heart danced with joy when Allen Arnold (author of “The Story of With”) spoke of deciding on a dream with God’s agreement and beginning to flourish.
This was confirmation. This is the story of “Look at the Birds” a soon to be published children’s book about worry. A story God spoke so clearly one morning and then kept speaking, “don’t just let this go.”
But, I almost did. Yesterday, I found a note to myself. I almost gave up on the book. I’d added to my to do list, “just hang the bird paintings in Elizabeth’s room.”
That very day the publishing company called to discuss moving forward. I said “Yes, I’ve decided. I’m ready to publish.”
Knowing that there’s no clear measure of success monetarily or simply the book having readers.
However, the success is in the continuing towards a calling, the creativity of God in me.
The memories of last night’s terror have completely subsided. It’s midmorning and I’m looking forward to an early birthday celebration later. I’m thinking of another heron painting. I’m remembering the prayer I believe.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Matthew 6:25-27 ESV