I lean towards the serious, it’s the design of me. Someone asked, “Why do you always look so sad?” I answered, “Not sad, just thinking.”
But, I sure did think about the candid observation.
Yesterday I positioned myself on a piece of cardboard alongside a three year old. We’d played Cracker Barrel tic tac toe over lunch and annoyed the other shoppers by giggling over a plastic toy chicken.
Last week, I sat on the driveway and played “marbles”.
Together, we slid down a high slope of a backyard hill moist from humidity.
Our faces glistened with the warmth of a Sunday in November. We giggled over choosing which puppy we loved best and we decided on the brown one, the one that nuzzled most.
Not so serious me later (on purpose) fell off the yoga ball repeatedly while being serenaded by Elizabeth’s uncontrollable cackling.
Laughter prompted by toddlers, puppies and Sundays.
I’m not so serious, thought you readers should know.
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.
Prayers are said, “Jesus Loves Me is my favorite”, she tells me when we talk about her songs.
It’s been the favorite for as long as her just over three years old.
There’s the song about the sun comin’ and the one that’s my favorite, three little birds outside my window happily reminding me every little thing’s gonna be alright.
But, “Jesus Loves Me” remains the three years running favorite.
We turned from dirt to pavement, up the hill on the way to town after noticing bright happy yellow faces of new sunflowers. I told her we’d walk tomorrow to see them up close and she gazed out the window decorated with stickers to tell me the trees were so green, maybe they’re full of blueberries.
We slowly move from country to town and she announces,
“I saw a raccoon yesterday…a big one.
It was in the road. Someone ran over it, keep looking Grandma, we might see it.”
I looked and remembered and told her that I’d seen a raccoon yesterday too.
The car became silent, my mirror told me she was thinking, dreaming, maybe somehow seeing God in a way I can’t through her window and up past the fat clouds.
So, I added “I hope the raccoon is in heaven.”
She answered. “He is. I’m sure.”
Her assurance was more than cute toddler sing-song words. I felt a presence, God’s as I kept driving.
I thought, oh to believe with such untested abandon, such unfiltered commitment, such direct and unquestioning conclusion.
Heaven. Of heaven to be sure.
A “roadkill raccoon”, according to my granddaughter is surely in heaven.
I smile over the image, I meet Jesus one day and popping around the corner, a raccoon or several. If there are thoughts in heaven, I think, “just like she told me.”
Since becoming a grandmother, I’ve seen through the eyes of a baby, now toddler just what to be sure of and what really does not matter at all.
I could tell all the stories I know of Jesus and they’d pale horribly in comparison to what her sweet soul knows about God’s care and love for us all, creatures and sinners and questioners who teeter on believing without evidence.
“I love you so much.” she offers unprompted.
Best love of all, unsolicited, not a reply to the same casual announcement, not a cordial gotta go, see you soon, love you
More an “I see you” and I think you need it, need to let you know, you seem to need it so.
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
I’ve been thinking about this photo all day. My college roommate and friend from the early 80’s sent this with a note, “found this today”. I was eating lunch with my granddaughter. We were talking about yummy bread and tomatoes.
I see I loved bracelets even back then and I remember how much she loved her VW. She was pink, khaki and green preppy. I see I must’ve been a little artsy. I notice the perm. I see my resemblance to both my mama and my sister, my daughter and son.
I see the tiny waist. I remember how little I ate, how much I ran twice a day.
I think of us, separately and together, how we both struggled, grew distant; but, she bravely began our new conversation.
I see me so tiny and remember I had such hatred for myself. I see her so bubbly and know only a tiny bit of not so bubbly days.
I see women now in their 60’s who know healing comes from forgiveness and more than forgiving others, it’s about forgiving ourselves.
So, skinny me no longer, maybe it’s time to stop rushing past the mirror and stand still for just a bit to consider, look where time, loss, grief, babies, defeat, trying again, fear met by bravery that said “continue” has brought you here…
Grace thus far has been the grace you’ve decided you can finally give yourself.
I never thought a thrown away art scholarship because of uninvited trauma (I still don’t like the “R” word) and eating disorder would have been so mercifully generous to say it’s not too late, paint.
You’re an artist.
I never thought a friend I haven’t seen since 1980 or so would keep a photo marking our bond.
Believe it, redemption is never ending and there’s nothing our loving God can’t make new.
Today, I met an artist in her home. She grew up in the landscapes of my favorite artist, Andrew Wyeth. She lives alone. Her husband is not well.
She invited me in.
Old me wouldn’t have.
But, tea time was at 3:00 and so, she, my granddaughter and I had tea and cream cheese pound cake.
And an almost three year old sat between two artists, two women who might’ve given up on themselves, but we’re not…and never ever on our art.
“For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:” 2 Corinthians 2:15 KJV
People watching must be a generational thing. Gift or curse?
It can go either way.
My granddaughter loves to sit on the front steps, at the foot of the walking trail, on every bench on the sidewalk of every busy street or tiny town square.
Cars, people, birds, puppies or any thing that captures her curious attention.
My grandmother was the same.
Plus, she’d strike up a conversation with any stranger she’d catch in a pause. They’d be trapped into listening. She might talk about us, or she might talk about her two daughters or she might just go on and on about embroidery or fabric or her support pantyhose the doctor prescribed.
Yesterday, I complained to others and myself about a woman who invited herself to my lunch table. She reeled me in talking about painting. My voice joined in. We compared our stories about creativity.
But, then she kept on.
And on and my information overload anxiety coupled with my not so sweet fatigue of “too much peopling” likely began to show on my face.
Soon, their lunch was done and her husband introduced himself to a lone diner, an older gentleman in plaid shirt and old black glasses, shoes worn down from shuffling.
He was thrilled when the woman began talking. There was no disdain over too much peopling as they lingered at the bar.
Later, my daughter and I shared similar but separate stories. Two women in two different grocery stores we concluded were wealthy because of their attire and because of the cash in hand. But, both wore signs of something wrong in their expression, something that said wealth or whatever couldn’t fix it.
I remembered the lunch counter talker, the way she’d comforted her husband as she shared just enough information for me to know that he’s a cancer patient. I remembered her caress of his bandaged and blood dried arm. I thought of her whispering something as she looked closely at the bend near his elbow.
The grocery store women, the waitress with the earrings in her cheeks for dimples, the woman who talked too much in the restaurant.
All made in the image of God.
Sheep like me in need of the shepherd.
In need of someone to talk to ‘cause we’re lonely, in need of grace as provision when what we own isn’t enough, in need of acceptance when we long to be accepted.
Myself, in need of a sweet repentance when my conclusions about others are tainted by anything other than love.
A love that loves to notice, invites conversation and a love that is patient and tolerant, curious authentically even
When “peopling” feels too much.
Lord, help my noticing of others always have the aroma of love.
And help me continue this “generational love of peopling ” that my Grandma started.
“And Job died, an old man, and full of days.” Job 42:17 ESV
The dark age spot on my right cheek has garnered by granddaughter’s attention. She’s announced to her mama that I need to see her doctor.
She’s reached the age of noticing, good things, flaws and unspoken thoughts too.
Last week, I saw a little boy I first met in 2019. He remembered me. He announced to his mama, big sister and me, “She looks older!”
We laughed at his precocious behavior and I came back with “Well, I’ve been through some stuff…you know…Covid!”
Then we all just nodded towards one another and got back to the reason I was there, a family adopting this sweet and observant sibling.
A trip through my phone’s photos confirmed my aging. But, also how the world gone awry because of pandemic changed other things too.
Look back, see if your face and others’ seemed to see things differently back then.
2017, 2018 and ‘19 early.
Less vacant expressions as now, less steely clinched jaws in posing, less uncertainty in linking arms in photos and less open and freely given embraces.
More hesitance, more lost eyes seeking something, what…
Less of need to tout your faith that was bigger than fear. More sure of sure footing and solid faith.
So much more sure, it was less necessary to announce it. I suppose I should say what’s clear, these words are realizations of myself.
Someone will know maybe upon reading this. Was Job sitting in a pile of sorrowful ash-covered questions the entire book of the Bible marked by his name?
Job, a man who honored God was the chosen soldier of faith to see if he’d surrender the battle or hold on unwaveringly to his relationship with Holy God and faith.
Stricken by the trial and test, his life gone awry.
His wife told him give up and die; his friends hung with him for a bit until saying clearly it’s you that’s wrong.
“And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” Job 2:13 ESV
I wonder if he just kept sitting, unable to stand when his friends became devoid of empathy, questioned his plight.
“But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed. Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?” Job 4:5-6 ESV
Monday was a dark blue day, I named it. By evening the blue lifted.
Tuesday, before breakfast, we baked a promised cherry pie and then “skipped to my Lou my darlin’” together.
Something’s happening, last month it was chocolate meringue. Little things, joyously small, sweeter than the cliche’, I’m doing them, I’ve decided.
Baby steps towards allowing joy, being less afraid something or some world event will snatch it away.
My wondering over the trials of Job came as we set out barefooted. The ground was cool and my granddaughter ran way ahead, stopping here and there to gather sticks.
I’m a lover of his story, longing to understand more is the pull of me towards my Bible. I’ll not find details of when he found the strength to stand up, but I can still wonder and I can allow his struggle and recovery to help me recover.
How long was his lamenting conversation with God and was his rising again gradual or all of a sudden…were his feet weak and prone to wobbling or was his recovery smooth and sudden?
I told my cousin yesterday, I feel like we’re all in recovery and we’re apt to slip ups, prone to dismay. We need to say so, if just to ourselves and wait, watch and know the fog will lift, we will see clearly how to walk again.
I’m growing, but not fully grown. I’m walking with strong stride and steady steps, but still not able to walk on my own.
We wound our soft sticks together into an oval, twisted the knotty vines and tangled branches. I carried hers and she, mine.
Laid them on the counter among the flattened wildflowers from our pockets and we drank lemonade on the porch steps together.
Singing a silly sweet song and talking to the crows
This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through and you belong among the wildflowers, Lou, Lou skip to my Lou
became our Tuesday song.
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2 ESV
Last week, I added paint to the largest canvas I own and then added more only to cover it all in a veil of watery white. The original didn’t say what I wanted. I don’t yet know what I want it to exude, suggest or be a place for that story to be displayed.
I set it aside. No hurry, it will be there. I’ll not regret my decision that the first felt wrong, I’ll stay with it, in time it will come.
“Nothing good comes by force.”
This three page practice of writing is subtly changing me deep within, with my faithfulness to it.
“Most of the time when we are blocked in an area of our life, it is because we feel safer that way.” Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
I’m late to this book. That’s okay, I’m sticking with it.
Every morning, I write the names of my children, circle them individually and then loop them together, encircled. There’s no magic in this practice, only a commitment to continue.
There’s not a greater sense of assurance of God’s provision towards them, of goodness beyond my control. No, it’s really simple.
It’s an act of service, an act of love, my choosing to stay with it, this act of subtle intention.
By choosing this unspoken and barely articulated prayer, a comfort has come.
Love is not selfish. Stay with it.
The kitchen counter was covered with every cookbook my daughter owns with a little girl dressed like Cinderella plopped in the middle.
There was no recipe for cake for which the pantry had all the ingredients. So, we decide together with a bit of exuberance,
Chocolate meringue pie!
Cocoa powder, sugar, flour, milk, butter and egg whites all imperfectly measured were stirring together in the mixer sans vanilla extract and cream of tartar for little mountains of meringue.
Standing at the stove, an excited little chef beside me, I realized my wrong. I mixed everything together when I was supposed to add the eggs later.
I kept stirring the watery muddy mixture. She asked “Is it ready?”
Not yet. I kept stirring and glancing over at her and the mess we’d made, multiple bowls, measuring cups, egg carton and sprinkled flour.
I kept stirring, making up how I’d make it up, “Sorry, grandma did it wrong.” I’d tell her and then we’d either paint or play or I’d climb into the “jumpy house” with her.
But, it thickened. I’d lowered the flame and kept stirring and slowly, slowly and by surprise, I achieved filling for a chocolate pie!
Chilled and poured into the waiting crust, we added the translucent mixture for meringue.
Later, we shared a slice and celebrated.
Delightful, pure delight it was.
What if what you’re afraid won’t come true actually might? What if doubt takes up so much space in your mind that when delight comes gently knocking, you barely believe it.
You don’t let it in?
May His abundance never scare you, the possibility of it, the thought that it just can’t be true.
May you know its truth.
May you fathom what you decide is too beautiful to fathom.
May the peace you see in others allow you to never lose the same wonderful peace inside of you.
May others see peace in you that you don’t always see yourself.
It’s not of your making, but it’s every second there.
Stay with it, the way of love, peace and waiting. The way of enduring hope.
Of even more grace.
The way of continuing and believing.
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” 2 Timothy 2:1 ESV
I’ll return to the large canvas when it is ready for my peaceful intention. I have an idea.
It’s fresh and new, its perspective
There’s no rush. Only that I choose to stay with it, to not fear the size of canvas or the abundance of its story.