Always Peace

Angels, Art, bravery, Children, courage, daughters, Faith, family, grief, love, memoir, Motherhood, Peace, Prayer, tragedy, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

We talked about ferns, pansies, mums, babies, children and prayer. I’d waited until past 8 to call, afraid she may not answer.

We talked about sunshine and husbands. We talked about my art and hers and we decided that we would “share a booth” in a “show” this Spring.

I found the obituary earlier.

My cousin, her daughter died unexpectedly 42 years ago.

I walked around with the reality of that all day long and with the question of whether to call, whether it would be something she’d like.

My aunt, I describe her beauty and I always think of Grace, the princess. Her voice is slow and draws gentle circles as she talks about peace, about flowers, about family.

She chooses acceptance, she goes after peace. She knows peace is her friend.

I had a reason to call her. All the pretty pansies and ferns froze over Christmas and the brittle evidence of a hard and unwelcome death were left on my daughter’s porch.

All the brown leaves and blackened blooms would have to be thrown into the woods.

“What should she start over with?” I asked my “Aunt Boo”.

“Ferns and if you can find some that aren’t all stringy and overgrown, some more pansies. If it gets freezing hard and cold, just drape a towel over them and let ‘em stay warm.”

Then she thanked me for calling as if she knew it wasn’t something I knew I was up to.

She told me it helps to talk to me.

Unexpectedly adding the memory of the last time she saw her daughter on New Year’s Day at the convenience store out by Zaxby’s.

And that was all, leaving me wanting to hear more about that day and yet, knowing that knowing more doesn’t make it better.

Knowing rarely brings peace in unknowable things. Instead, an embrace of accepting that thing or things we cannot always understand always does.

Acceptance brings peace.

Knowing more doesn’t make it better.

Today, I’ll look for ferns, asparagus hopefully. The bright green prickly fronds that seem delicate are actually thick and strong.

Feathery and fragile and yet, they endure as long as they have sunlight, water and necessary protection from the frigid cold.

I’ll share my aunt’s advice with my daughter and add it to my treasure trove of her sweet lessons for my living.

Peace, today I shall go in peace. Stay with it.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;

the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
‭‭Numbers‬ ‭6‬:‭24‬-‭26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This one’s for you, my precious Aunt Boo.

Love and Mercy

Abuse Survivor, bravery, Christmas, courage, curiousity, daughters, Faith, family, grace, memoir, mercy, Motherhood, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, sons, waiting, wisdom, wonder
Then and Now

Of all the scribblings and sketches in my Bible that chart my hopes, prayers, dreams and instructions, there are a couple I prefer not to read, that cause a sort of wrestling.

Make me wish I’d used a pencil, not a pen.

One word, “mama”.

“Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭8‬:‭50‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus had just been interrupted on his way to heal an important official’s daughter. He stopped in the throng of curious people when he felt a touch, I think more a desperate, still gentle tug and he healed a woman who’d been ostracized because she couldn’t stop bleeding. He looked her in the eye and called her “daughter” and said carry on now, go and live freely and well.

A few sentences later, he raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead in front of a group of mourners, saying she was just sleeping.

My doubt has fled; my faith is free.” Harriet McEwen Kimball, “Joy & Strength”

I’m curious about Harriet. How she came to this freedom and how she remained doubtless. Maybe it was an exercise in returning to the faith, of reminding herself in a comparative sort of fashion why she chose to believe.

Yesterday, I thought of prayers it seems I’ve been praying for quite a long time and I thought about waiting and about the wonder of prayer.

I could bullet list mentally the answers to some seemingly unrealistic and rapid responses and I could list the times I fall back to my knees and say “Here I am again, Lord and it’s the same thing.”

I can list the times I’ve been reminded by God’s spirit, give it to Him.

On Monday, I thanked God for the privilege of surrender, not being responsible for everything or maybe not much of anything at all.

I’ve written about this before, about the country preacher who came to visit when a long fought battle forced surrender.

The preacher didn’t lecture, didn’t condescend, didn’t direct me to a Bible, didn’t say he’d send the women’s ministry to see me.

He turned to me in my fragility and spoke softly,

“Just pray for mercy.”

The itinerant preacher from Poplar Springs Baptist Church saw me and responded.

And thereby started me on my tentative path towards believing, of refusing to doubt no matter the dilemma or delay.

When I wrote “mama” in my Bible, the lowercase letters resembling a middle school diary entry, I was a different woman than I am today.

If there was an assignment, I said yes. If there was a need, I volunteered to fill it.

If the church lights were on, I was seated in my pew or I was dutifully down the narrow hall, teaching or getting ready to sing.

I didn’t listen, only now cringe remembering, the Sunday morning my son said to me, “Mama, just sing with your voice.”

Oh, the ways my children endured me!

Because of my steady efforts, I was certain my mama would not die, like the daughter of Jairus, she’d rise up strong again.

But, she did not.

There were some things, I decided, my faith could not do.

I see “mama” on the page in Luke in my Bible as a gift now, a retrospective glance at the striver I was rescued from being.

I see “mama” and I still believe.

Because wellness, healing, a life without serious illness or chronic conditions is not completely up to me.

No amount of striving, performance or gut wrenching protective prayers or isolating will guarantee a life without sickness.

Circumstances will come, that’s a given.

Still, it is with certainty that I know belief is not circumstantial.

If it were, the woman with the flow of blood wouldn’t have had to wait so long or worse yet, she’d been overlooked or assumed too far gone.

Just pray for mercy.

Mercy will be given.

Perhaps not as expected and likely not without question of “if”.

And certainly not because of or despite your performance.

Mercy is given, not rewarded.

Just pray for mercy.

Use your voice.

Continue and believe.

This one’s for you mama, Merry Christmas.

Lisa Anne

Strong But Quiet

bravery, Children, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, family, memoir, Motherhood, Redemption, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder
Does he not see my ways and number all my steps? Job 31:4 ESV

A family of seven walked the trail together. Up ahead they kept in a slow rhythm, a man, a toddler, a few adolescents and a woman with a stroller.

One looked back, heard my catching up to them. The man smiled and commented on the humidity. The woman pushing the stroller I noticed was empty, corrected one of the children about something. Her voice was loud, her face so serious.

I smiled and looked back at the group, told them,

“My children laughed when I tried to be mean, I was never good at getting their attention that way.”

The girls and boys looked at me and stayed in step with their mama who added in a way that her children know she can be “mean”.

Not in a fearful or threatening way, I sensed the children understood.

It’s a matter of how we’re made, how we convey our truth.

Job argued defensively with his friends and with God for whole chapters and yet, never disrespected or disavowed his Father.

He was quiet, but strong.

Distraught, but not demanding.

Frail, but not frightened.

The Book of Job is poetry for the introspective and honest. It is comfort amidst woe.

It is quietly strong.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Quietly strong, a tone I love.

In the mornings, I find a smoothly writing pen and I write the names of my children side by side, circle them on their own and then add an embrace of a larger encircling together.

A quiet practice.

Strong and soft, unwaveringly committed.

A way of trust.

The way I know.

Wisdom found in quiet confidence.

“God understands the way to it, and he knows its place.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭28:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Keep On

Angels, daughters, Faith, family, grace, grief, memoir, Motherhood, Peace, Redemption, Trust, wonder

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

A Children’s Book

Art, birds, Children, Children’s Books, Faith, grandchildren, Motherhood, Teaching, wisdom, wonder, writing

You are loved.

“Look at the Birds” is a book inspired by Matthew 6:26, a reminder for children and the people who love them.

You can purchase a copy by contacting me, in Aiken at 3 Monkeys, in Augusta at Sacred Heart Cultural Center or online at Amazon, Target, Walmart or Barnes and Noble.

I’d love to share this book as a part of your children’s ministry or VBS or summer reading programs by offering bulk purchases of the paperback.

Contact me at ltartandword@gmail.com for more info.

youareloved #lookatthebirdsbook #matthew626

Geraniums and Guitars

bravery, Children, confidence, contentment, daughters, Faith, family, memoir, Motherhood, Peace, sons, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder

The window box of my kitchen window was flowerless last year. Summer 2020 had only half-heartedness as far as color, bloom and tradition.

Days of sanitizing my arms, my car, my doorknobs, my conversations in a way, all caused by a virus.

Life was compromised by fear, animosity prompted by that fear and questions that seemed very unfair until I remembered no one knows what to do.

They don’t know either.

Fear is so much like anger.

Down the hall, leaning against the wall are two guitars, both in need of repair, one only worth fixing most likely. I’ll take it to my friend’s shop today.

I believe in its redemption after several hard years of refusing to let it go, but maybe uncertainty over whether it has importance.

This year, the geraniums are planted already.

Bordered by soft white tiny flowers, the vibrant red in the center tells me good morning and good evening as I stand in the kitchen.

Geraniums were my mama’s favorite, not necessarily mine. My daddy played guitar although I have only one vague memory of hearing him.

I only have the stories of others, stories of how he loved it.

How it loved him.

My mama taught me about plants, water early before the sun gets hot and again before it goes to bed.

Commitment leads to beauty.

I’m close to my parents long passed away because I plant red geraniums and I keep a guitar next to a nightstand.

It’s a weak substitution for conversations we never had, for reconciliation and resolution of hurts I may have caused them and they caused me.

Still, it feels perfect, the comfort of a red geranium and a silent guitar.

I’ve had chances to use the word “imperfect” as a description of my parenting with my children.

It feels like a balm to be able to tell them what they already know.

I pray that’s the way they see it, a gesture unlike stuff or sacrifice of sleep or even monetary indulgences.

I pray they’ve seen my heart quite a lot and enough.

The way I see the heart of my mama in my window box geraniums and in a quietly resting guitar down the hall.

It feels like honor. It feels like they are near, like peace. I embrace it.

“Dedicate your children to God and point them in the way that they should go, and the values they’ve learned from you will be with them for life.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:6‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Praying While Standing

Angels, bravery, Children, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, grace, Motherhood, Prayer, Vulnerability, wisdom

“You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:2‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Kansas City Angel

On Thursday, I woke with the weight of a rock on my chest and acknowledged it by lying silently. I shifted the blanket and thought of the questionable source, the concern that I felt was my fault, realizing it was something other than me, the reason I had reason to worry.

I stayed with the revelation and accepted that it was not mine to change.

The change would come in a healing God may bring or in acceptance of the thing I named unmanageable becoming not best, but okay.

I thought of prayer, of prayer when worries are best left secret.

I read Psalm 139 again, the Passion translation, the confidence of David that God is love, that God is listening.

Because of travel, my mornings are different, only pockets of alone time, no journal, no books, just quiet finding me when it knows I need to be found.

I wrote the morning’s thoughts and shared them on Instagram. I was better then, hoped someone else was as well.

How often do you keep your feelings to yourself? Is there wisdom you have for others that might be better left unsaid?

Prayer is the place made for secrets.

God knows everything about us, our fears, our nagging worries, our catastrophic endings we write to stories based on fear’s perception.

Fear may be valid. Fear is not helpful. Fear forces one of two choices. Join in a conversation with God. Pray and tell him the secrets you keep from others that He already knows, just wants us to be open in sharing. Or let fear strangle your thoughts and hope.

Tell God where your faith is feeling shaky. He will rekindle your hope and He will increase your quiet courage.

Everyone has a secret sorrow waiting to be changed to trust and joy when brought to God in the quietness of prayer.

God knows and loves us so well.

David understood. He strayed, struggled and was deeply honest. He never stopped returning to the place he knew and was known, the presence of our sovereign God.

The morning became purposeful.

I walked a couple of blocks for our coffee and returned to a load of laundry, my clothes would be straightened and organized, this would be better.

I walked down the narrow stairs to the basement. Quietly, I passed the door of another tenant and turned to hear the washer still rumbling.

Five minutes left in the cycle according to the little green light on the old coin fed washer.

I stood facing the dryer.

I waited.

I prayed, the freely coming names and needs of others and I passed the time by passing them one by one to the ear of my Father.

Five minutes, unselfishly motivated, my attention completely turned to others who God brought up.

Thank you, God, for reminding me that you are more than enough when I feel I am incapable. Thank you for turning my thoughts to others to say to me your grace towards me is enough.

Is still enough.

Tree in City Park, Denver

The small suitcase is lying open on the floor of my son’s new home, the one he decided has “soul” and I smile now, happy that my tendency towards loving words that are fitting, is a part of him too.

My friend and counselor talked me through the airport in this big city.

She prayed for me and is praying.

I am borrowing her carry-on even though I had one already.

I am confident because of her and others and because I’ve kept my promise to my son.

There’s been no crying.

There have been photos. He’s kept his part of the promise.

Fear is such an angry emotion, so disproportionate to faith when the enemy takes over.

Fear likes to get a head start, likes to overtake you when you’re groggy, tired or lonely.

It has you siding with thoughts that destroy you, causing you to think you’re simply preparing your defense.

Fear is not pretty.

Life fully embraced is.

I’m researching trees in the quiet this morning, fascinated by the one in the park and the similar one anchoring my son’s new home.

I want to call them cedars because of what God says about those. I want them to be special, memorable, like a charm God kept secret knowing I’d be here to be captivated.

Comforted.

But, I think they may be spruce or a particular pine not known to southerners.

Either way, their beauty is peace and their standing is strength.

Strong by the Water

“He will be standing firm like a flourishing tree planted by God’s design, deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss, bearing fruit in every season of life. He is never dry, never fainting, ever blessed, ever prosperous.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭TPT‬‬

God is everywhere. Don’t forget to notice.

Say your prayers.

Continue and believe.

A Book I Wrote

Angels, Art, birds, Children, Children’s Books, contentment, courage, Faith, grandchildren, hope, memoir, Motherhood, Peace, Redemption, Vulnerability, writing

The subject line in the email was “I Wrote a Book”, and I attached a bio with background, art and a few words expressing I hoped the recipient and her family are well.

I’m remembering now my first years working with homeless families. She was our emcee and it was one of best fundraisers in history. Her beauty, poise and sincerity added to the success.

Over the years, she remained engaged with our agency and I had many opportunities to talk about tough things on her show.

This would be different. I “go by Grandma” now.

The morning of the Skype call, I moved slowly towards the time, I arranged the room and realized there’d be a toddler nearby. I thought of canceling. Instead, we talked about it, my granddaughter and I.

I moved her coloring pad and crayons to her parents’ bathroom. I changed from my uniform (exercise leggings and T-shirt) to a blouse in my daughter’s closet.

My granddaughter stood beside me as I curled my hair and then added mascara, blush, etc.

The interview began and she played with her “babies” close by.

I was worried about Skype, about the wrinkles on my neck, about my hair because my daughter had no hairspray, about talking too fast or too slow, or too much.

And some of these things are evident in the interview.

More evident though, is the graciousness of Jennie Montgomery, the peace God gave me, the joy over art and more than anything at all.

The surprise of my own voice as I spoke clearly of being loved by God.

The legacy I hope this book leaves, Lisa Anne Tindal is both strong and vulnerable,

she loves her story.

Look at the Birds interview

Cake Tomorrow

Art, birthday, courage, daughters, family, mixed media painting, Motherhood, painting, wonder
January 30th – Cake With Your Mama Day

One of my favorite things to see is the expression on my son in law’s face when I talk about art or life or I’m uncharacteristically funny.

We were sharing our Saturday plans, “cake with your mama day” and the whole idea of it.

Mama baked, January 30th was her birthday, still is and so, we’ll celebrate it by eating cake and telling other people about it.

He smiles, looks at my daughter. I walk towards my car and say, I guess most people think I’m weird!

My daughter shouted back,

“No, just crazy!”

And I saw them smile and I drove away, knowing they think I’m crazy in a good way, the way God made me.

“I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:14‬ ‭TPT

Crazy for fun ideas and for sharing them?

It’s the way God designed me.

Linking up with others here prompted by “design” and I’m hoping they’ll have cake with their mama tomorrow or cake by themselves or with someone to honor her!

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Design

(Artwork above is available to purchase.)

Future Plans and Surprises

bravery, Children, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, grandchildren, heaven, hope, Motherhood, Peace, Prayer, Truth, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom

I’m not sure why God, or maybe it’s life that did it, made my hopes and angst and wishes always be from the perspective of my children.

On earth as in heaven, I suppose I ask God for this. Quite often, I ask God to surprise my children, make them certain it was Him.

There are countless hopes my heart holds for them, some of them things they long for, some are ideas of my own.

I’m a mama of adult children. I can’t hold or control them. I can only pray with open hands and unnamed hopes with their names circled in my journal.

I give God control. He is a buffer of protection. He loves them more than I.

I want to know they are well and that they are loved well.

I want them (and me) to embrace heavenly things as pursuit in a time when earth is so uncertain.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I want them to see me trying, admitting it is hard and yet, waking up to try again.

Even on days and days on end when what’s ahead is unclear.

Put one step forward not backward. One step on days when a greater distance feels difficult or detoured by these crazy days.

Step forward, think forward.

Set your intentions on being intentional in the days ahead of not knowing much at all.

Considering maybe God is breaking our addiction to control this year to show us knowing everything doesn’t keep us safe.

It is only knowing Him that is safe at all.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭26:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Linking up with others prompted by the word “ahead”.

Ahead