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

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

The Essence of Days

Forward with Grace

Wouldn’t it be phenomenal to carry around all day…all the day long, 

the little confirmations

epiphanies 

the truths spoken by another

that happen to be gracefully

placed in your lap?

Most especially the ones that ease your mind

lessen the pressing pressure of what next, what now, what if and what if not? 

The ones that make resting and trusting and doing just our small part in this ginormously, great big world more like grace and less like not enough, even drudgery? 

God is for us. God is with us. 

Step easy, Lisa, tell others the same, that 

there are places He is preparing. 

Seemingly insignificant or maybe no step at all; yet, even my planted feet and heart in places I think dull and lowly are privy to the light.

We are not meant to be seen as God’s perfect, bright shining examples, but to be seen as the everyday essence of ordinary life exhibiting the miracle of His grace. 

Wisdom from Oswald Chambers

The seemingly useless steps are taking us to places we’ll be a light, maybe be warmed by the light of another. Then, round the corner and look back, enlightened. 

I believe this. 

I am trusting this as truth. 

I just keep taking the next step knowing there’s no call for standing in the crowd and recounting my failures, there’s no retribution that demands I shrug off the notice of the works of my hands. 

There’s no need to deny or lessen the good by stepping back into my wanderings to tell of the bad. 

There’s grace in the ordinary life I live that just needs to live, knowing it’s all miracle, all of this beautiful stuff every morning. 

All the days long. 

A wise man I read as often as possible shares occasionally, using the phrase “Miracle, All of It” and gracious his words are beautiful and true examples! 

The everyday essence. Bird nests discovered, things coming through, us being children of God, dogs snoring, eyes waking, happenstance meetings to discover “me too”. 

No accidental occurrences. 

Miracles

of grace. 

And us happy all the day because of them. 

This is God’s desire,

I believe. 

Grace and Tender Places

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It happened again this week. Crazy, sort of thing, this place and time that a thought comes and becomes more.

The same tree-lined block just before I make the left turn towards work, a thought so clear, a revelation really, it happened and I’ve stored it up as truth.

This time, as powerful as the time before when God gave name to his plan for me, called it “treasure”.

I’ve not let that go.

Won’t.

But, on a morning that caught me off guard by its bitter tone, I hear again; God in response to my heart’s soft question.

Are some days more tender?

Are there moments, mornings and whole stretches of being that the heart’s wide open with raw remembering calling to be healed?

Or  do we allow unaware, the covers thrown back, inviting bravely the attention needed to be well?

Yes, Lisa there are, healing is a process.  Move through it, you are healing.

Learning.

Not like falling back into deep pit of pity, it’s quite beautiful, really.

No need to cause alarm or wondering  “Oh, are they okay?”

The hardest lessons are the ones we must accept about ourselves and our flaws.

They’re revealed  in the hurts of our histories or then eased into acceptance of mislaid plan or controlling lives of outcome gone off in different directions, not always bad ones…

Just ones we didn’t design.

We make boldly confident declarations about what we’d not do, let happen or ever have come and take up space in our homes, in our hearts.

Happenings, mishaps and missteps make you live out your cliche of “but for the grace of God I go there” when, oh Lord…you realize you are there.

Oh, the humbling reality of proud, mislaid lives.

You went there and now you’re on the cusp of beautiful other side…

Until, again somehow

tender places in my heart, like skin rubbed off my baby toe because I wore the fancy shoes, the rawness reopened to be healed.

Oh, I remember now, it was me who opened it up again…one exchange of truthful word.

I remember now the cause of tender sting.

I spoke up for another when the question was posed, “How does a smart woman like her stay in that abuse?

I answered with an answer I believe some never knew me by…

“Seven years, mind control, isolation and thrown against a wall more times than I can remember. God is good though, he kept me here for a beautiful purpose I don’t yet fully know. Hard to comprehend unless you’ve been abused.” Me

So,  some days, the heart’s more tender, the wound more open and the realization of vulnerable more palpable.

Open, truthful and gracefully well.

”Tis grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.” Amazing Grace

 

 

Sweet Remembering

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It was late, almost dark.

The clouds were enormously ominous, a bunch of ’em all gathered up together and I could hear my mama saying,

“Looks like there might be a cloud makin’ up over there.”

The geese were holding a meeting in the grassy field. I brought the leash closer and said quietly, “Good boy.”

We hadn’t meant to scare them, we were just strolling lazily, Colt and I.

But, they congregated and flew up and away together with loud flaps and a chorus of harmonious fly alway song.

I was glad to see them because I heard my mama say,

“There they go.”

I remembered my morning prayer written in my journal, “Lord, send a little reminder today, that all is well and help me to see it clearly.”

And I heard my mama saying now, “It’ll all be fine.”

Lightning in the distance, I turn uphill towards home, cutting short our walk.

I’m content…under heaven.

Geese, storm clouds, and memories of mama.

Thank you, God.

That which was bitter to endure

may be sweet to remember.

a proverb

Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee as we think about loved ones and heaven.

if you fear death, are puzzled by heaven, or wonder if you’ll live forever – #tellhisstory

A Handful of Quiet

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A room filled with women, we arrived and found our table. Five women can live at our homeless shelter at any given time. We’re always full, their stories always different.

One’s had a really tough stretch of days and she rode with me.

I told her on the way over about the way I sometimes write the word “trust” on my palm. I open my hand to look at it and remember or sometimes close my fingers in towards my palm, letting my thumb lie against the place I know the word rests.

She smiled and I drove, running late as usual.

When she realized we were going to the country club for dinner, she said,”Oh, we’re going to be at the country club?!”

I answered, “Yes.” and a added a little “whoop whoop hand in the air shoulder shake”

It’s my signature move. My daughter has built a whole “Snap” story around me.

She added, laughing out loud, ” Raise the roof, Miss  Lisa!”

And then, her eyes glossy, “I laughed. This is the first time I’ve laughed this week.”

We all sat together. The women who live in our shelter, myself and another employee.

When grace was said, I opened my hands on my lap and listened.

Softly and unexpectedly,she put her hand in mine and I covered our hands together as we prayed.

The warmth of her hand was indescribable.

The thought of it still now as warm.

I spoke about our program, remembering little of what I said except “Their stories become my story. It’s only the grace of God that has kept me from the same hardship.” Because I always say that, always.

Some of the women in the fancy dining room listened, really understood. Most likely only some were brave enough to try and understand if I’m honest.

Let’s be honest, many were thinking…Well, I’d never get myself in such a mess like that.

The room was filled with wealthy women and towards the end of the night, one in particular clearly shunned me.

I felt it.

I have experience with this feeling.

I woke up remembering it and almost let it linger; but, remembered more clearly her beautiful hand in mine.

How could I minimize the beauty of the one hand by sulking over the other?

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:5

So, I prayed, “Lord thank you that my life has been less than perfect. That I’ve not had the perfect dress for every function. Lord, thank you that you’ve placed me in places that I get to hold the hands of others. Thank you, Lord that she reached for my hand, knowing I’d reach back. Thank you for reminding me to stop chasing the approval of others.

Linking up for Five Minute Friday although, I always feel certain I go over. I’m not so great rule follower at all. 🙂

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Believing Afraid

image.jpegLast night, this thought just sashayed through my mind. Popped up, hung around and I thought, yes, this feels like truth.

Feels like revelation.

I thought, go write it down; but, didn’t for whatever reason. Friday night, long week why must I always think so much anyway?

Then woke and remembered and it was still just as good, just as huge and real.

Thought again of heaven, of first impressions and of impressions I may have made.

I could see it new and different after years of not quite enough, not seamlessly believing without doubt or living without faltering.

I could see that it was good, would be okay.

I imagined standing there before God and him caring less about my fumbling and more about my feeble yet persistent pursuit. I heard him say…

I saw you learning to be loved, learning to believe. It was beautiful to see how those around you saw me through you.

I saw you being afraid, too. I saw the times you let your fears suffocate your belief and so you stumbled and you had some failures in your faith and in some things you let go your pursuit.

But, don’t be troubled. I’m not disappointed.

I saw you, saw you believing more everyday. I saw the times your heart’s rhythm was at ease or was joyous. I saw you, when you believed and your soul thrilled in its place of peace. I saw the blue of your eyes, clearly opened anew and the curve of your quiet lip in a humble smile.

I saw you.

Believing, afraid.

I made a new list, a letter to self. One side, what I believe, the other what I’m afraid of.

Then sat and colored in my Bible in the place where John recorded Jesus’ time on earth, the place where disputes over believing in Him and His outlandish love, healing, and behavior were deemed inappropriate.

They were afraid to believe, I guess.

Aren’t we all, until he reminds us?

Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40

 

 

 

Treasure

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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.

 

 

Morning Love and a Prayer to abide

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Lord, help me live in a way that my actions,my thoughts and my words can’t help but show how strongly you love.

And help me to be so trusting in my walk and so firm in my faith that no doubt or fear will hinder or make questionable my belief in You.

Remind me of the place of your dwelling, my heart, so that the ramblings of my mind not overshadow the Spirit of you, the Holy Spirit in me because of Jesus and mercy and grace, unmerited…unmerited.
Guide me to find you again and again and to remain there, that a place of abiding in you.

Lead my fingers to the words of ancient truth, truer today than I’ve known before.

Do not love the world.

Love God. Love your brother.

Abide in light.
I John 2:7-17

In the name of and because of Jesus, I pray.

Amen

Welcome, Rain

I welcome the grey sky and the swaying pines, looking towards kitchen window, I’m anticipating a good rain.

 

I chose today to rest. Said yesterday, if I can finish this, I’ll stay home tomorrow.

I worked with the goal of completing the task and tried my best to express differently, convey more clearly a need for support.

I’m anxious. I’m apathetic. I fear it may show.

I’d said it all before, usually mostly the same ways in copy paste fashion. Asking for support, articulating a need and lining it up with a result, an outcome.

I write grants, ask for money to help homeless families.

It’s impossible to share in full how important our interventions are. It’s even harder to ask for money, to sell your heart’s work as if it’s a product or commodity.

Hard to think business when your work thrives on heart.

So, I let it rest.

The incomplete application saved to resume on Monday.

Walk away from it. Let it sit. Let it rest.

Deciding to start fresh another day. For now, Friday  feels like Saturday and I walk out into the yard, the view from kitchen window making me hopeful for rain.

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I rest a minute, the thunder’s way off. Hydrangea and hosta, richer, deeper blue and green, waiting in shade of intermission.

 

Then, the rain comes.

101 degrees just moments ago, I watch rain through the window, thin and straight sheets like arrows.

Just a few minutes and it’s done, so I go to see the flowers planted round the pool, bright again and refreshed.

The pool empty and shimmery blue, a single leaf floating in repose.

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Thunder again in the distance, inviting more rest and more rain.

I welcome you,  rest and rain. I welcome your blessing, your end to my season of draught.  Welcome, rain.

And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing.

Ezekiel 34:26