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

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

31 Days, Freely -Belong

The Spring before my daddy died, he planted potatoes. The air was cool and my children watched, their bottoms plopped down on the dirt, my daughter with her arms wrapped around her baby brother.

If you asked my daddy if he was a farmer he’d have said no because he wasn’t a farmer and the potatoes weren’t a necessary crop.

If being a farmer depended upon breaking up the soil, walking out the spaces between the slices of potatoes planted, well, yes he was a farmer.

He belonged among the farmers.

I woke up this morning thinking about the harvest, about the keeping at it to reap what I sow.

My daddy was meticulous about how the potatoes were planted.

Just a small plot of land my cousin wasn’t planning to use, next to my house, so I got to watch him stand over it, waiting for what was happening underneath.

I read this morning about perseverance, about persistence.

Thinking about this season my friend is calling our harvest, I sensed a sure stirring, a need to grow.

I’d been distracted, disgruntled, pulled away and pitiful, decided I was never gonna reap from all that I had sown.

Jesus told a story about seeds and what we do with them and how we get disenchanted with the idea of us making something grow.

We don’t stay with it, we let our hopes go.

He told of people who only stick with it for awhile or people who’d just toss their seeds toward the not broken up soil as if to say, that’s it now God, make it grow!

“And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.”

‭‭Luke 8:13-14

I thought about my daddy and his potatoes, bothered that I couldn’t remember, did we go back to reap the harvest, dig up the little baby red potatoes? Did he get to see how well his last crop had grown, how abundant his harvest was that last year?

Jesus continues, explaining how we are made to flourish, lead others to flourishing.

“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The soil was always good where my daddy planted his garden. He had an honest and good heart, he was patient with his potatoes.

Daddy belonged among the farmers, I believe.

Maybe I, among the writers, the planters, the sowers and the patient, holding fast to be mature believers.

More or Less

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Tiny House

Off to the side, a brilliant flash of blue and I’ve given up on capturing the shot with my phone. 

I’ve learned the “momentary-ness” of the bluebird is in itself a message, there will be chances again, encounters with happy bird. 

I think of my cousin; she sits on her porch and thinks of life and loss and love and our Lord. 

I remember the bluebird resting on her lantern, she told me so.  

It meant something to her in that very moment, did me too. 

We’d waited to walk until after the rain, the labrador’s paws searching for shallow puddle and hoping for pond. 

I remembered the nest I found and I wondered if this is where the sparrow came from, the one who rustled the bushes, startled by my search for tennis ball. 

I thought of the sparrow all week, strangely contemplating the words of Jesus. 

“Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31

‭Because, most days I’m in the middle, more or less assured.

I  believe the middle must be me, must be that place of  humility that doesn’t look like insecurity. 

Days little things flit by like a bluebird. Little truths I must hold fast, must chronicle somehow.


My daughter, my guide, my wise gauge saying “too much, Lisa” or “Let, that go.” when I complained of lack of a thank you for a painting. 

Then she countered it with “your angel ministry has impacted so many people…”

She’d never called my art my “ministry”.

Oh.

I’d thought she thought that too much me.

Like blue or red bird unprepared to see, those are words I cherish. 

My son encouraging me to “give it time”, this first real commitment to my health, the healthy way.  He sees me sweaty. 

He sees me trying, won’t let me be weak. 

Like mental bullet lists, this momentary really only “secondary”  stuff is making me brave. 

Making me believe I’m worth more than I believe. 

So, we ventured down towards the pond, Colt’s leash taut with the pull of high grass and cool water. 

The frogs were singing, the thickness of humidity making their song deep down and hollow.  

The lab tilts his head, meanders towards the sound, two, three times, comes from the water then goes again, a lazy dip. 

I don’t worry with sticks or retrieving, just let him dip down, then walk my way then go back to cool again, again. 

The hill back up feels steeper. Did we choose a different angle back home? 

Slowly, we reach the pavement and again, a thought.

So significant, I wondered if others have such thoughts. 

Thoughts so true and clear and with no one around, just you and the wide open whatever and wherever that all of sudden, 

You utter, “Ohhh.” as your thought becomes voice and makes a sound.  

A sound that starts up high like an excited revelation but, then drops to a sauntered fade of realization that says but, what if, not possible or “Oh, well.”

These are the moments, I believe, that 

God says, “I know, child. I know.”

I’d seen a tiny truck on the interstate, driving too slow, I passed and glanced over longing to see a handsome frame like my daddy’s; but, not so.

This, I remembered walking Colt back home. 

The thought of my father became a sound and it validated my longing. 

I touched it, not for long and I could let it go, acceptance again. 

It was beautiful in its comfort. 

Oh.

Confirmation like feather then, grace resting in His understanding of me. 

“I know it’s hard, hard for you to know,

To believe you’re worth more than the sparrow. 

Let me show you.

 You are. Fear not the voices inside that shout out to turn back from where I’m leading you.

Utter “Oh” but, never “Oh, well.”

Look at the sparrow, Lisa Anne; consider the lily.

Remember the writer, her message last week. “You were MADE for this.”

Remember these truths more, 

Your fears, less. 

Happy Father’s Day in heaven daddy. 

Linking up with The Mom Gene to share my Sunday Thoughts, a new group for me. Happy to find it. 

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. 

Life and Treasure

I noticed it there.

The early morning humidity touched my face like a clothes dryer opened to reach for clean towels. Clinging to my skin thick, unwelcoming and uninviting, I fill bowls with cool water for the dogs and glance toward the corner of porch.

Such a heavy morning, blah, slow moving pessimistically blah

I see it and move to capture it, getting closer to notice its frayed edged wings.

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Black velvet and azure blue with little specks of bronze, I’m careful as I reach for it, my thumb and finger delicate in grasp.

Wings broken and pressed like a sentimental  bloom, I decide to save it, for the sake of simply feeling fortunate in its finding.

So, I bring the butterfly inside, lie it down on the page of the day’s Psalm and carefully move my Bible to the center of table as I go to make coffee.

The house is quiet and cool, ceiling fan whisping my hair and the butterfly just slightly shifting on thin page of Bible.

I read from Psalm 7, thinking  of harmful and hurtful times.

I thought of anger, fear, lives lost and of blame and judgement, of understable hatred and hatred stirred up.

Thought of my thoughts and I wondered then,  do I really understand?

Could I maybe understand more clearly?

Noticing verses, timely and clear, I pause.

O’ Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands, If I have repaid my friend with evil…. Test me, you who test our minds and our hearts. Psalm 7:3,9

Help me to see me clearly.

Then, I prayed and wrote and thought of hopes to see more clearly.

To do no harm if I could help.

Like the butterfly, captured and killed on back screen porch.

Could harm have been prevented?

Had it come in to escape the weather or maybe Colt, the happy lab bouncing in the air, excited by its beautiful movement snapped his mouth sharply and clipped its wings?

Brought it to the porch, a delicate and beautiful treasure harmed by rough exchange of play.

But, found by me.

A thing of beauty, tortured, lifeless, but beautiful still.

Life, its beauty remains.

Life, a treasured gift.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Walk Easy Towards Good

Your hope will not be disappointed. Proverbs 23:18

Your hope will not be disappointed.
Proverbs 23:18

I only made it through 9 of the 31 days “of UNimpressive writing”.

 I neglected to announce to the hundreds of bloggers who all, in their own voices, committed to write for 31 days  on topics  of  “inspiration”.

I just stepped away from the challenge, no need to acknowledge a surrender or writer’s defeat.  I just decided to go at my own pace.

Less demand, more heart.

I continued to write, though hoping to avoid the pull of being “impressive”.

One lapse into writing to impress and one follower, kindly and honestly picked up on it.

His honesty is and was a gift.

Otherwise, on this day 26 of 31 I’ve been content in my writing. My words have continued to be honest, to attempt to point to God’s place with me now as opposed to where I’ve been, and to write bravely with confidence in such a way that someone may read and stop to think, just to think.

Either, can’t believe she had the courage or lack of discretion to write about that or I have felt the same way and I’m glad I’m not the only one.

My aim, the transparency of a writer’s heart exposed to the world like a house made of windows with no drapery.

There has been purpose for pain and for pleasure on my journey. I am led to share the stories reframing  of God’s hand, his constant redesign.

And so I walk slowly, writing along the way.

I heard the sweetest story yesterday about a baby excited to walk. The grandmother, my friend with an honest and earthen voice, told all of us ladies in the choir that “He’s learning to walk!”

We all sighed a collective and excited reply,  “Awww.”

The grandpa wanted to buy him shoes right away, make his legs good and strong, saying  ” We got to get him going, help him learn to run !”

To which grandma replied,  “Oh no, let’s take our time, let him walk.”

This morning I prayed a request to just handle whatever shows up in my life.

To respond and adjust in a way that demonstrates faith in God.

Consistency and persistence, growing more important than ever somehow.

Baby steps are good.

Slow moving, tenuous steps, cautious enough to anticipate.

Steady and strong enough to run.

So much talk I have of faith, trust, courage, honoring God and yet I get all twisted and tangled in why I stumbled back there, back then…

Or how I’m ever going to make it  to wherever and whenever.

I read this morning about a runner,  concerned over impending rain.

A brilliant writer whose images literally pull me to his words.

Words, so subtly strong, they sink down and ease me to a powerful place of insight, never jolted or pushed.

Offering a chance to understand, never a demand.

Running. With Rain.

I’d like to grow in this way. I’m humbled that he has read my words, has shared them.

Just keep moving forward, Lisa… keep moving through, noticing the beauty.

Keep writing, painting, loving, trusting, holding fast to faith; in life, in God.

Run when you can; but trust your walk,  pausing just long enough to grow strong.

Or waiting there, stepping forward only towards Good.

Linking up with others who write at Jennifer Dukes Lee, Tell His Story.  Read her important and wise advice on friendships here, http://jenniferdukeslee.com/the-five-friends-we-all-need-tellhisstory/

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Grateful Pauses

Last week, I decorated jars.

Attached pretty slips of paper on twine wrapped greenery.photo-11_kindlephoto-23408621

Greg added little openings in the jar lids and I smoothed out the paper labels Heather made, “Give thanks” labels for  front.

Took them downtown, added a little sign to sit beside with Quiet Confidence, Isaiah 30:15 and my name

Calling them “Gratitude Jars”.

I need to make my own now, label it and become diligent in daily recall of blessings.

On my way home a couple of weeks ago, I stopped; another car and mine, waiting for light to change.

Two men on the corner, one helping the other.

One, shaky in his walk, clutching his brown bag, being led by the other down the sidewalk.

For just a minute, I wondered if I should be afraid, should flip the door lock.

I didn’t.

I watched, pausing to remember my daddy and a time he needed my help to walk, memories of his unsteady days.

This was the week of the remembering him 17 years gone.

And the memory of holding him up had nothing to do with drink.

I paused to watch and smiled.

It was a sweet, solemn time.  He had surrendered to love, help and grace in his last months of life.

Another time, similar in scene,  came to mind.  Again, in the car.  This time, Heather, Austin and I.  A man holding a cardboard sign, dressed in clothes that were a little scary and looking towards our car as we approached.

My daughter and I remarked something; I can’t remember what now, not at all kind, I recall.

My son, probably around 8 spoke up as clear as a bell from the backseat…”What if he’s Jesus?”

And the car fell silent.

Pausing to remember even now, the conviction in his voice as he chastised us.

I headed home, the two men in the distance.

Thinking of my son now, knowing he still believes in what he said that day.

I will remember this as a  “Grateful Pause”photo 2-5_kindlephoto-23184054

Last Sunday, “Mr.Bill”  had Children’s Sermon.  He’s the best. He’s animated, unpredictable and loves to surprise them.

I always listen intently and watch their faces as I sit in the choir loft.

His props are the best.  This Sunday, he pulled out a shovel.

He asked the group, “How many of you like to dig in the dirt?”

He paused.  I paused.

And the sweetest memory came to rest.  My eyes misted up just a little and I saw my Heather Analise.

Blonde, blue-eyed, wearing a sun hat.  The two of us sitting together in the sandy field for hours on end. She digging in the sand.  Me, digging my heels into the cool earth while she loaded dirt in her little shovel and then moved it to a pile, only to wedge her little shovel into that pile and move back to the other.

Hours on hours of the nothingness of our blissful play in the dirt with my daughter.

I pause even now, remembering and grateful for the sweetness of my life.photo 1-7_kindlephoto-23255186

A grateful pause.

Grateful Pauses,  I’ll label my jar.

I’ll jot these  stories down and drop them in.

Then, I’ll watch and listen, pausing for more chances to be grateful.

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— Psalm 103:1

Linking up with Tell His Story writer, Jennifer Dukes Lee

The Best Seat in the House — #TellHisStory