A sign of strength and a nudge to go on confidently, a messenger of sorts, this is what the red bird, the cardinal means to me.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” Luke 12:6 NIV
I opened the drapes to see if there’d be sun today. I had been thinking of the phrase…
You are mindful of me, thinking about how I’m seen and in the thoughts of God.
I watched this woman all dressed and ready for the day, a red jacket like the flash of a cardinal and leopard printed flats just like mine. She navigated the area in front of the hotel and her little terrier from a motorized wheelchair. I noticed her precision in keeping the little dog on the leash.
To think of the intention of rising early, caring for herself and her dog despite limitations humbled me. Tenacity and maybe, I don’t know, a passion for living might be her motivations.
Blessed beyond measure and God being aware of me are two thoughts I’ll carry into my day.
That and the grace of being someone who matters to God, as do you.
I had to slow my steps, intent on only art canvases, make the beeline to the back and hurry on. No eye contact, small talk time, just me and my fast walking.
I needed to halt or bump into a woman with her son. She had a shuffle step that was familiar, I remembered a mama long ago who had an injury leaving one hip higher than the other. So, I thought this might be her and I’d be able to ask how she’s doing along with her now adult son.
Strangely, it wasn’t her, instead a younger version.
Still, our eyes met and she exhaled a big sigh. I asked “Been shopping all day?” And she replied that they’d been in the street since eight o’clock and she’d been takin’ her mama to all her doctors.
I saw her then, saw her loyalty and I added as I walked beside and then ahead of her,
“I remember those days. They are so hard. Get home and find some rest.”
She nodded, thanked me.
I bought eight 8×10 canvases and carried on.
I noticed the line was short at Chick Fil A and I was thirsty. I ordered my little indulgence, kids meal, fruit not fries and tea and answered “Lisa” as the young man calculated my change.
He asked how my day was going and I said “good” as I sensed the awkward in between, the task of giving me change and so I asked “Are you having a good day?”
His deep dark eyes met mine and the rising up of his chunky cheeks in a smile beamed as he happily answered, “Yes, I am.”
I rounded the drive thru line and watched a couple of boys/young men play “rock, paper, scissors” to determine who’d bring my order.
The one who lost sauntered over to my car and chuckled, “I just took your order!”
I smiled back and said that’s so funny because I was about to ask if you had a brother.
Serendipity, sort of, the chance to share kindness again.
Last stop, Publix for collards for tomorrow. Intentional here too, I have a short mental list and on a mission. The soup aisle is running low on chicken broth and my path intersects with a shopper who doesn’t hesitate to look up and say “Hey! How ya’ doing?”
I smile, realizing I don’t know her and she keeps talking and adds “I’m about to cook a big pot of soup for my family!”
“Sounds good!” I go my way and she goes hers until we’re both in the parking lot, cars loaded and I hear “toot toot” from her little SUV and my eyes meet her excitement in getting to wave goodbye to me, someone she doesn’t know.
I’d say it’s just accidental, this thrice encountering kindness from strangers and reciprocating.
But, since I have a thing for things in 3’s, I know it was heavenly, this afternoon of kind conversation and willingness to be seen.
Unknowingly, three people changed the course of my day from sullen to seeking, from deficient in hope to hoping.
Three people, working in community with my Good Father yesterday.
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2 ESV
“Running away was not in her character.”, Google provided this definition for character, the word that settled as I’d read in Isaiah about Mary before there was Mary.
Just now, I’ve named this windowsill decoration. I’ve been pondering why I love her, why she comes down from the attic every December.
She’s not an angel as angels are known. She has no wings, no halo, no aura. She’s holding a tray with an unadorned cypress and a few red apples.
I see her as one who brings, one who offers and loves.
Irregardless and unrelentingly.
Silly me, it’s a ceramic statue.
But, she has no shoes on her feet, the garland of green crowning her head is only leaves and so, I see and
I sort of see me.
Little have I to give in comparison to others if giving is measured by grand or perfect.
Little am I in comparison to many, my gifts to the world pale in comparison.
Last night, in the before bed tidying, I discovered some of the manger scene had gone missing.
The little felted figures, the angel, a wise man, a shepherd and Joseph were nesting like a family of birds in the tree.
I smiled with the discovery.
I’m not sure the reason, perhaps just boredom or longing for something I can’t know.
What the mover of these had in mind for these or for me.
They’ll stay there until packed away for next year and when I look at the intentional redecoration, it’s celebration that I see.
Celebration, not imperfection in my tiny bit tedious decorating this year.
How is it I’ve never thought of Mary as a “giver”, one who questioned the reason behind things; but, set her heart on her part in the story, her character in the scene at the manger.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 ESV
I have a canvas on the easel resting with edit number “several”. I’m envisioning the position of the figure sort of off center.
Now walking away, staring into some mysterious distant place, I see her being reimagined.
I believe she may be a “keeper” to remind me.
A settled soul facing forward, a gift of something fruit or flower cradled at her chest and she may be simply waiting.
She may have the stance of offering not taking.
And I believe I’m sweetly loving the thought of that.
The thought of giving, not expecting, of resting and not resisting.
Of waiting for what’s within me to create what’s meant for me not to be without.
“The Giver” will be the name of the painting.
This morning, by accident I found the words I thought might be in a book about the moon.
“The sun will beam and the moon will glow. The light will stay, little child. God is with you today and tonight. The light will stay, child. The light will stay.” Me (Look at the Moon) (?)
Someone in a prayer group I’m a member of commented, “Pray for me because of this root of bitterness trying to grow.” And the replies understood the concerns, the need for prayer…even urgency.
Because bitterness begins in secret and then the roots grow thick and stronger and threaten us until they take over.
What is bitterness? I could share my list of things that are secret and of things I’ve vented in conversation with others (about others).
Roots destroy fertile ground. Love and peace cannot thrive when bitterness keeps growing.
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;” Hebrews 12:14-15 ESV
More importantly, our roots destroy relationships with others. Bitterness that makes sense only makes us sadder.
Sometimes I look around and see how very different I am and feel from others and I remind myself to bring peace not judgment, love not frustration and a subtle but steady light that points to the source of my joy (even if it’s dim on the days questions, doubt or bitterness crouch at my door.)
When Elizabeth was born, I sang “Deep and Wide” over and over and over. I can’t say why (other than God) I sang it over and over from the first moment I cradled her tiny head in my hands.
With Henry, it’s been “This Little Light of Mine” and like his sister, he doesn’t seem to mind that it’s the same words over and over. I want him to see my light as I want Elizabeth to know the depth of mine and God’s love.
Love one another.
Don’t grow bitter.
Your life has no space for hatred to take over. Only room for joy to grow high enough to create a canopy for all who stand near you.
“Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2 ASV
I’ve never met an angel or have I perhaps, only dimmed and unnoticed by distraction?
I believe I shall notice more gently, silence the bitter banter of all other.
At first, I felt feisty. I felt fearlessly intrigued and the winding, hill and valley narrow dirt road was pretty. I continued and looked to either side in careful glances so as not to slip from the narrow path to a deep crater ditch.
Either side of me, vast open and clearings, fields with little treehouses on stilts for sighting and shooting deer.
No sign of life anywhere.
Then, the drop into the valley followed by a sharp curve and another hill.
Stuck, bogged down and panicked, when I slowed over fear over when will this road be over.
This road Waze instructed.
My destination, a wedding.
My “grandma car” SUV adorned with stickers on the carseat window and Chick Fil A prizes strewn all over. My blue Toyota Highlander was trapped in thick play-doh like clay.
No cell service. No idea what to do. Who might ever find me?
My face began to flush and I prayed and prayed as I turned the wheel right then left then right then reverse then right foot pressed to the floor. My torso rocking in a rhythm that matched. My body and my will with all my heart was pushing.
Then inching, inching, inching.
I had not stopped trying.
I didn’t succumb and I broke free.
Tentatively, not taking for granted the rescue I’d achieved, I drove into the clearer, strewn with pebbles road.
I arrived with gift under my arm as the bride was stepping up into the chapel on her daddy’s arm.
Someone offered me a seat.
A precious wedding it was.
Joy, laughter, love, elegance and simplicity with an aroma of longstanding faith in a family.
I’ve told the story more than necessary.
About this road called Yarborough.
The scariest abandoned road, the adrenaline rush of a woman alone and inept, but rescuing herself.
The union of two precious souls, in a restored and resurrected building,
new again surrounded by unchanging old.
House of God by way of a wretched and dangerous road, a road taken wrongly.
I thought, I think… this is good, no surprise, exciting, you get a break to paint or to do whatever.
But, that’s okay. Last days are good, are meant to be noticed and honored.
Honored with the grace of two breezy morning walks, odd finds, two morning glory flowers, yellow leaves and some important to remember instructions about songs.
Today had me thinking of last days, last things.
Odd, some may say, but I miss the meetings when I offered up my space and the mothers, fathers, friends and others who introduced themselves with the story of the loved one who chose suicide.
I don’t miss the stories, I miss the significance of their sharing. I miss being invited to join them. I miss showing up.
I don’t miss the trying to turn left from Aiken Middle School’s exit to take my son home, but I miss my on the cusp of manhood son and his four or five tightly knit rascally buddies with baseball on their minds and ambition on their fearless shoulders.
I don’t miss walking into my daughter’s room and discovering the clothes explosion covering the floor hasn’t given me a path that’s clear, but I miss her just down the hall, I miss climbing into her tiny bed to talk.
I don’t miss the DFCS court days and the half-hearted or no show biological parents intent on being defended just for the happenstance chance of maybe the judge will give us a fourth chance. But, I surely miss the children, the ones I advocated for and often buckled into my car if “on call”.
I don’t miss the home visits that scared me s**tless, but I treasure the eyes that met mine and saw concern, an unspoken love and hope that life could be better.
I don’t miss board of directors meetings or foreboding financials, but I do miss the allegiance and commitment together to mental health.
I still get the “seriously?” looks when I retell the reason I retired, a child welfare and nonprofit leader, at 58 years old.
I made a promise to my daughter. My mama did the same. I’ll share the responsibilities with my “tag team” other grandmother (“Gamma”) and I will help care for my daughter’s daughter.
By the way, do you know the importance of the first three years of a child as far as strong love and bonding?
It’s important. They’re important.
The one I call, “Morning Glory”, the one who told me today,
“Grandma, you and the baby can find morning glories and you can’t sing “Rise and Shine”, that’s Gamma’s song.
Yours is “Jesus loves Me”!’”
The grandbaby I retired early for begins pre-school on Thursday.
Today was my last 5:15 a.m. alarm to arrive and send off to work my Literacy Coach daughter.
It was special.
Today and Monday.
Who knew, Elizabeth, God or had they talked already?
She added wings to an angel drawn with a stick in the sand. We decided dragonflies and butterflies are cousins. She told me my hair is long, long like her mama. She asked me to braid her hair and she told me she had a “happy” dream, a slide went into heaven and there were children there and it was beautiful.
She told me “Jesus, is up, up, up and way, way up there.”
And when I asked, she was smart enough to know my crazy hoping for the reply so spectacular,
“Have you seen Jesus?”
“Well, no,” she answered. “He isn’t down here, he’s up there…the rocks haven’t been moved again.”
Yeah, I had no words.
I listened. Again, listened.
I pushed her in the swing too small, sized for the baby because she wanted to be little.
Then, we got all gussied up and had salad for lunch and frozen strawberry slushy ice cream.
Oh, and we got shoes, red ones for school.
No matter the mood, red shoes can change it, right?
Today was my last “grandma day”, not for long, just a break or as needed.
I told Elizabeth I wanted it to be special.
This last day of 5:30 rising and driving out to the country, the place I named “pretty”.
Walking with a tiny baby close to my chest to racing with a toddler in a princess dress, seeing who can find a feather, a rock, a weed that’s a flower and pausing in the shadow of “That’s your favorite tree, right, Grandma”?
She said, “Memories, Grandma.”
Yes. I said “Yes.”
Morning glories I’ll never let go.
“Never go backward, only forward.” Grandma Bette aka my mama
Elizabeth Lettie goes to preschool, excited and
I will be.
So will I.
In a book there are flowers, a feather, a seed pod we call gumdrop and a plan to print photos, put them in a book called “Morning Glories”
Stories, songs, smiles, schedules and little things that are still secrets between E., God and I.
These are days the Lord made. We have rejoiced and we have been glad in them.
This baby has changed me forever. They say it’s that way. No need to wonder. I’ll hold fast to what I believe.
I did the most silly, most powerful thing the other day. I changed the description in my Pinterest profile back to what it was originally.
Powerful? Silly? Yes, both. I edited the words characterizing me as an author and artist and I went back to the grander aspiration.
Lisa Anne Tindal, artist returned to “Artist and writer longing for a little white house near the ocean.”
Longings leading my heart back to me.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 ESV
“Come back, daughter.” my Heavenly Father keeps saying to me.
My Notes app became my diary at the beach, a call to smaller, more lasting things.
Nothing aspirational only thoughts of those around me, my line of thinking, line of prayer meandered from galleries, Italian art tours, and pricing my art in a way that measures its worth not just a sale.
We walked down the quiet street and discovered a white heron, gracious in its stance. The creek was quiet, the bird shaded and shielded by old overgrown cedar limbs as I knelt with a three year old resting against my chest.
I told her I was so happy for this gift, this peace today in a white elegant bird.
So, my prayer because God hears them. If possible and good for us, I’d love to have a seaside house for those I love to gather.
To gather again.
To search for the white bird daily.
To paint on paper bags, be surprised by God again, to be visited by birds and song.
Aspirations so small and mighty.
So settled, not seeking.
So confident of my heart’s desires being known by my very kind Father.
Last weekend, I responded to the question of when I became an artist with the truth of flunking out of college, losing my art scholarship because of hard things and harm and then working hard as a helper of families before, in my 50’s, coming back to art.
There’s truth there, but even more in the realization,
I’ve always been an artist in the very same way I was told “You’ve always been brave.”
I did a powerful silly thing. I changed my Pinterest bio back to the true, although dreamy thing.
To be an artist with a little white house near the ocean.
To gather. To paint.
To search for the white bird with my family.
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. Isaiah 30:15 ESV
There are four words I treasure and a couple of other phrases too.
“Continue and believe.”
“It wasn’t God’s intention.” and “Keep on.”
The first I came up with to remind myself not to give up on life, myself or my God. The second, wisdom from a friend, helps to make sense of horrific happenings that make no sense at all.
Helps to reconcile what shouldn’t have happened, what went wrong, how you were wronged or what damage went unattended.
Trauma is not God’s intention for us. We move and breathe in a world that’s mean as hell.
When we choose to keep on, we’re deciding whatever “it”’ is or was, was not God’s intention.
There’s solace in this decision, sort of heavenly.
The third, from my mama, mostly unspoken but demonstrated by her tenacity
and stubborn resolve.
I put geraniums in clay pots every summer because I decided they are “mama’s flowers”.
I feel she sees me and sometimes I know that she does.
Mama’s last car was a green Chevy Geo, I think. It was small like a Nova or a Corolla.
She commanded the road, striking out on her own for a couple years, driving as fast as she wanted.
Get in the car and go seemed to be her philosophy.
Yesterday, I got steadily closer to a Chevy Impala driving too slowly. The construction ahead told us to move over. The Chevy just kept on creeping, the shape of the driver was either short, small or leaning in a relaxing swagger I noticed as I came close.
I passed and looked over and in a flash, I saw my mama. The woman with the short hair and the handicap card on the visor had one hand on the wheel and the other lifted to wave a “Hey, girl.” to me.
I wondered where she was going, all alone on a Friday morning. Maybe to get a breakfast biscuit, maybe just gettin’ out for no reason.
I saw her independence.
I saw my mama.
I pulled into the station for gas and as I turned the gas lid to lock, the Impala strangely pulled in behind me.
The woman with the happy cheeks and the knowing eyes waved again and nodded as she smiled, laughing alone in her car.
Just for me.
God was with her and somehow she knew I needed my mama.
The woman in the Chevy saying,
“Keep on, Lisa Anne. Keep on.”
Continue and believe. This is God’s intention.
“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalms 23:6 NLT