On Grace

bravery, doubt, Faith, grace, Homeless, hope, mercy, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, Trust, Vulnerability, wonder

If grace was matter, a substance to be measured, tallied, considered in a debate about comparables, how much would you say your cup would contain, how substantial would be the grace you’ve been shown?

I woke before light and stayed still until I saw the light coming across the hall, narrow slats on the carpet from the room with the silver tree.

I remembered the homeless one.

Three times I’ve now seen him, he finds spots to retreat in the woods near the abandoned mall. He looks to be mid-twenties, thin but not starving.

I first saw him camped in a shady spot. I shopped at Target then drove back to give him $5. I hurried my window down and sort of frantically thrust the money towards him. He said thanks and I drove away. I don’t know why I was scared of him or being harmed.

Then I saw him leaving all his bags in front of Target and dart inside and I worried someone might just take all his stuff and I wondered if he was worried. When I was done shopping, he and his stuff were gone.

I don’t know his story. I just want him to know what I know about grace.

It was 22 degrees in Carolina this morning.

I remembered the homeless one.

The third time I saw him, I had a back seat full of groceries and one last shopping stop. He was standing at the intersection, cardboard marked with a scrawl, “homeless”.

I looked his way, smiled that smile of mine that says worry, accompanies an inaudible moan.

I paid for my art supplies with cash and added a Hershey bar with almonds, wrapped in cash, $10 and headed back to the homeless man.

This time, I paused. I let the window all the way down. I gave him the candy bar and money, suggested he eat something good.

I looked at his eyes, he at mine.

And I told him strongly as if I was telling a long held secret to someone before you’re not sure of ever seeing them again.

God loves you.

And a second or two transpired that felt like hours and I repeated myself and added, “no matter what.”

I got the sense that he believed me or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he thought

Well, lady what good is that?!

I don’t know what he thought.

I just know my God is love and if I forget that I also stumble over the immeasurable gift of grace.

I fall into that pit of looking to others to determine my worth, to prove to myself that I’ve done enough and more to be worthy of this abundance of grace I’ve been shown.

Paul talked about this to people who continued to question their rights and their wrongs in an assessment of themselves and others to believe in their righteousness.

They believed and couldn’t fathom not believing it was all up to them to be good enough.

Paul told them he would never waste the death of Jesus by complicating it with his behavior.

“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭2‬:‭21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Grace matters, matters more than any effort we pursue, any accomplishment we know.

It matters more than our falters, our failures and thank goodness it matters so much more than our stubborn and strong or feeble and sad efforts to prove ourselves right enough not to be found wrong.

Here’s a song about such an incomprehensible thing, to know my God is love.

God is Love

My cup is full.

Arriving

Angels, courage, Faith, hope, love, marriage, Prayer, Vulnerability, wonder
Horn Creek Church, est. 1790

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 arrival.

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.

And with uncertainty.

Nonetheless, I arrived.

And I continue.

Look Up Here

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, eating disorder, Faith, freedom, grace, memoir, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, testimony, Trust, Truth, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder, writing
In Process

Friday night, two weeks ago, I sat in my friend’s den. We’d had a yummy and not without funny incident meal in a tiny town nearby. The night was cool. The Labrador and cats had been fed. My friend sat on the “Elvis” velvet green sofa and her husband faced me, each of us in the ivory armchairs.

My friend suggested, I “give my talk” as a practice for Saturday morning. This would be my third practice reading.

I made it through and my friend and her sweet husband approved. Then, she added,

“Lisa, it is beautiful; but, try to talk instead of reading. Look up.”

“Okay, okay.” I assured her and went to bed scared and vulnerable.

Tossing and turning but waking to a pink morning sky, I journaled and landed on the passage in II Timothy that tells us not to have a spirit of fear. I found another verse I’d only skimmed over before.

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord.”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1‬:‭8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We arrived at the gathering place, women preparing and chatting; I found a pen and reviewed the words I’d be sharing.

Added in places that I felt needed it

LOOK UP HERE

I’ve decided to share the essay/speech.

You’ll likely recognize the paragraphs or two that led me to choke up, lose my place and for the life of me not want to look up.

Places that caused me to stare in an awkward vacantness.

Still, I knew someone might benefit from my sharing. I didn’t know I’d be given such a gift of acceptance in their kind expressions that morning.

Your slightest pain finds response in his sympathy.” Handley C.G. Moule

Here are my words:

Of Lasting Value

Lisa Anne Tindal

Louisville Presbyterian Church, October 22, 2022

I suppose it was over six months ago. My friend called me by surprise which is her nature. The call is always genuine, the conversation always for my betterment. I have a friend who is closer than a sister. She is why I am here. 

This friend who is both soft and strong, hilarious and humble has influenced me towards courage all along the way. And so, this phone call from my splendidly southern friend was a gift and then, an idea shared in an unexpected request. 

I am here with you today because my friend believed I should be. She shared that she thought of me and my journey and felt I’d be the just right speaker. I told her I would think, I would pray, and I thought…

Well, I don’t have to worry about this now, October is a long time away. August came and then September and I began to be very afraid.

And the fear became heavy and close to paralyzing. I couldn’t be quite sure why or rather I couldn’t decide which was the most accurate reason. After all, I’d spoken publicly in many places, business, philanthropic or civic engagements and I’d spoke about much less pleasant topics, homelessness, suicide, mental illness. Why the fear over sharing about my life, my journey, and least of all, art? Why did I feel so deficient? Why did I regret saying “Yes”?

On a Saturday afternoon, just before dusk, I made a list. Lists help to organize my thoughts, give understanding of my worry, spur me on. This list with a column for opportunities over  the past year or so lined the left side and the right was absolutely nothing at all as I tried to respond to my mind’s question.

Why is this not enough?

What more could be proof? 

Will it matter if you’re in a gallery, a solo show, if all five paintings in the current Charleston show are sold?

My soul was sullen. My mind knew the answer.

It would not matter at all; you’d still be trying to prove to yourself that you are “enough”. You’d still be trying to win the next marathon, jump unhindered through the next circus hoop of culture and comparison.

You’d still feel unqualified. 

Later, I prayed before sleep and there were tears. The prayer, not one of request or providential goodness, instead I asked God to forgive me for trying to be anything other than his plan and his idea. I acknowledged I’d been striving to succeed, to fly on the wings of my own, wings that aren’t broken, no not broken at all…just marked by fading scars and not fully grown.

I sat in my morning spot the next day, recalling my cry. I reviewed the list and remembered a couple or three wonderful things I had omitted.

The list is long. The list is truly amazing; but neither sufficient nor satisfying on its own.

Actually, insignificant.  

As a woman, a little girl, a mama or wife, how do you measure significance?  Is it in the success of your children? The accolades in your profession or maybe in the longevity of your marriage that has endured some stress? Or is it smaller, more insignificant things that matter so much more? 

I am a woman from south Georgia, raised by a mother who loved through cooking and often masked depression with achievement, a father who was broken and as kind as a southern breeze on a humid day until he needed relief from whiskey and then he could express his brokenness and anger. It was hard many days, thankfully not all of them.

My parents were human.

A girl who was “daddy’s” who became a young woman broken by the weight of that label. A young woman who loved the quiet comfort of art and longed to love God but was afraid she couldn’t measure up.

A young woman who suffered harm, overpowered by strong and angry hands on more than one occasion. A college student who lost her way and began to starve herself to gain control.

A woman who became a single mother to two and found the wherewithal to support them through keeping Georgia’s children safe as a DFCS employee.

I am a woman who is now married to a man who understands me (although it was an effort) and the mother to two adult children I treasure, a grandmother to four, very soon five grandchildren.

What’s your story? Have there been debilitating detours or even small dilemmas? How have you tried to redeem them?

Has it been tough on your own?

I love to imagine being alongside women in the Bible who found themselves in places and situations that didn’t masquerade their disadvantages.

Their stories are ours.

They are in our Bibles. These women I call “Colors of My Bible”, figures that began to develop in the margins of a Bible gifted to me in 2016. I began to see myself in their stories, at times not sure the reason, and yet, as I continue, their stories, their colorful lives continue to change mine.

They are women who came to understand, it is God who decides we are valuable.

It is God who positions us in places to remember this and to add value to the lives of others by our embrace of this truth.

Of what value are you?

Maybe we are similar to the women with ancient stories,

We are strong and have value.

Esther, an orphaned young woman raised by her uncle found herself in an unlikely position. Her beauty, I suppose we could say was her ticket. More so, it was her commitment to her people, her family that made her courageous. I like to imagine her clothed in purple, diminutive in size and in the background are the other competitors for her place in the palace. I remember Esther for her bravery. Her allegiance to her family and her courage to protect them became her value. 

Martha, a favorite of mine because she did what I do. If there is angst, an unanswered prayer, a rescue or remedy I’ve decided isn’t coming, I have the answer. It’s control, cleaning, rearranging.

Once I painted the bathroom cabinets, replaced the mirror and changed out all the towels in the bathroom. I was waiting on a call from The Citadel to see if my son in his Freshman year first week would be coming home. I think of Martha and her plight of “needing to know” or being sure all would be well. I like to envision her finally sitting down to rest beside her sister Mary and being gently reminded things like a cluttered kitchen don’t matter. I remember Martha for her anxiety. I remember Jesus telling her to rest, all will be well. Her learning to trust and rest became her value.

The Woman at the Well, known by many for her lascivious ways, I relate to her story. Admittedly, I am not a theologian; but I’ve read that is was not unheard of for women to “serve” more than one man. This was the culture back then. This is why I love the approach of Jesus. He didn’t have to say to her “your secrets are exposed; your lifestyle is well known”.

Instead, he offered redemption in the form of I know, and I still care.

I like to build on the story of when she ran back into town to tell everyone she’d met the Messiah and he too knows all about me. Here’s an even sweeter part of this story to me, the townspeople knew her. They thought less about her messy life than they did the message she brought them. Her living past her shame became her value.

The Woman Caught in Adultery I believe was despondent. I believe she expected to die by stoning that day. I see her with eyes cast down, numbed by the reality of her exposure. Although she was prepared to be stoned, I somehow see her as suicidal. When Jesus confronted the accusers, she must have been surprised. I suppose he could have told her to hurry home, to go her way; instead he asked her to take notice…you are not alone, “Go and sin no more”. Her life was changed despite her imperfections, it was changed as she acknowledged her wrongs. Her humble admission in the face of punishment expected leaves me with a beautiful image of her walking away, eyes lifted up and shoulders strong in faith. Her humility although despondent became her value. 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, so young and unprepared. As I speak to you today, my beautiful treasure I call Heather Analise is ripe with the soon birth of her second child. I recall the first days of my granddaughter, helping any way I could and the preparations her parents had in place, things like schedules, feedings, monitors, sound machines and cradling swings that lulled her to sleep. Mary, surprised by an angel, simply believed and continued in her appointment arranged by God. I wonder about her questions, if she shared them with Joseph. She pondered ( a word I love) and I wonder if her ponderings were sometimes fearful worries over the mysterious and unfathomable delivery she was chosen for. Belief in what made no sense, confidence in what she couldn’t have predicted, and a quiet resolve to believe in what she did not yet see. Occurs to me now, the similarity of the life of Mary and the definition of faith. Her faith in a time of unknowns became her value. 

Hagar, (Am I the only one who wonders, couldn’t God have at least given her parents a prettier name?) the mistress of Abraham and Sarah who met their needs and fulfilled their wish for family. A maidservant, who with the wife’s permission, slept with the husband so that in their old age could carry on the lineage with a son. Here’s where I used to find myself on “Team Hagar”, relating to her condition as a result of abuse and manipulation. Again, culture in these ancient days allowed this. Sarah resented Hagar and Hagar hoarded over Sarah the benefits she brought to her husband and to them, a child.

Jealousy between women has apparently been around for ages. 

Hagar ran away, not broken and afraid as I once believed. No, I believe she was just angry. She had enough or maybe the “maidservant with benefits” was not proving to be as beneficial as she thought.

So, she ran.

The angel of the Lord found her in the wilderness and confronted her fleeing. More than a confrontation though, it was an acknowledgement that you may not feel it but “God sees you.” Being seen by God changed her, not so much her living situation or positioning in life; but, knowing God saw and sees her strengthened her to carry on. Hagar’s words, the first to give God a name, “El Roi” has become her value, we too are seen and known.

The woman who spent over a decade in hiding, unable to be cured from her uncontrollable flow of blood, despairingly decided to simply give the healing of Jesus a try.  How many of us have had to leave work, tie our sweater around our waist or worse, agree to surgery to remove the source of flow? What a personal thing a period is. 

What a last resort to try anything for better. So, the crowd was thick that day, the scene perfect for her to go unnoticed and to simply be near this man who’d been healing so many desperate others. She touched the hem of his garment and she was made well, and Jesus felt the sensation of the miraculous leaving his body and he stopped in his tracks. 

He sought the seeker. 

When he found her, He called her daughter and she began to live unhindered and unhidden that day. She didn’t expect to meet Jesus, only hoped for healing. Her resolve to seek healing and to keep seeking. This is her value. 

Esther, Martha, the Samaritan Woman, the Adulterous, Mary the Virgin; Hagar and The Woman in need of healing, these are just of a few of the figures you may find in the margins of my Bible. What began as a tentative practice with color moved to canvas and from canvas to local shops and galleries. From galleries to pages on social media, articles in magazines, a website, a children’s book and an invitation to be photographed for a national exhibit.

I stand before you an example of a woman sort of lost and found. 

You see none of these accomplishments were solid enough for my soul’s standing as far as my value and worth to be unshakeable. It made sense to me that my childhood was so deficient in encouragement and notice that I’d set my mind on achievement and unrelenting aspiration in the confidence that one day, some way, I will believe I am enough. 

And yet, I had to understand, accept, on my own I am never enough.  

Rather, I am a work in progress, a sailboat shifting in the winds of God’s direction, a woman who asked God to cancel this event, deciding for God that I was not qualified, not attractive enough and not skilled eloquently as far as speaking. 

Hmmm, I wonder did Moses have a sister? 

Thank you for the invitation to choose the braver as Martha chose the better, as Esther chose the more courageous, Hagar chose God’s knowing, the three women defeated, scorned and or wrongfully living chose the joyous gift of living differently, Mary chose not knowing and yet, believing and because she chose our story continues, 

a life of value according to Jesus.

My prayer is that you know this choice, that you’re easy on yourself as you try to remember.

Your value is not accomplishment or acclaim. Rather, it’s a quiet thing, a life that leaves an example, one that is lasting even if often scary. 

Continue and believe.

You have value.

Look up.

Notes To Self

contentment, courage, Faith, grief, heaven, hope, memoir, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, Vulnerability, wonder

“I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭45‬:‭3‬ ‭NIV‬

Someone said to me, “Your Bible belongs in a museum.”

Sincerity was in the tone of the one who decided this.

Today, I turned to Romans and I found two pages almost completely covered with longings and lists.

In the margin, I added the word “indeed” to strengthen the words of Paul saying Christ is at His Father’s hand communicating my specific needs and hopes to Him.

Unfathomable? No. Hard to believe?

Maybe.

Joy and Strength, authors from the 1800’s

God! Thou art love! I build my faith on that!” Robert Browning

A couple of Sundays ago, I heard the word “perish” in the delivery of two different ministers.

We don’t talk much about Hell anymore, some about Heaven. As a child, I remember a favorite uncle telling my daddy that he went there as he lay on a hospital bed and that the smell of burning bodies was overwhelming.

Was he delusional in his terminal illness? Did he glimpse what perishing means?

I can’t know any more than I can really know what Heaven will be.

Both preachers explained Hell as “eternal separation from God” and I thought

I know what it feels like to be distant from God because of my own wandering mind and activities here on earth.

I know I don’t want to be separated eternally.

“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭24‬-‭25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’ve just been interrupted by a call, a number I sort of know and so I answer.

The caller is a precious woman. A woman who’s name I used to scan the obituaries for, a woman I served in the best way I could until I couldn’t anymore. One, challenged by loss, addiction, incarceration, homelessness, loneliness and utter despair.

I felt I’d always be responsible for her well-being.

And then, I let her go.

She learned to fly on her own.

She’s with her mama this morning. Her mama hasn’t eaten in three days and “it’s her time, Miss Lisa, I just wanted to call you, will you pray?”.

I told her what I had just been reading and how I had added the word “indeed” in the note to self:

“Christ Jesus is indeed interceding for me, for us.”

Together, we imagined such a conversation.

Then I asked if she needed anything. She answered, “No, Miss Lisa. Just pray.”

And I thought.

Well, that’s one thing I can do.

The mysterious ways of God will never truly be understood by us here on earth.

Still, my hope is unwavering.

I pray it’s the same with you.

Believe.

Continue and believe.

Girl on Whiskey

Abuse Survivor, bravery, curiousity, fear, grace, hope, mercy, Prayer, Redemption, suicide loss, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder

“…where have you come from, and where are you going?” Genesis 16:8

If I inventory my speculations, judgments, concerned observations and exchanges in chatty conversation last week or so, I could fill a page of my journal, the pages that typically contain personal/selfish prayers.

Think of Others

Like the practice of contour drawing, I laid down names on the paper. A simple free flow based on things I’ve heard, concerns I know and mostly, worries and hopes others have that only they know.

You can pray for others without “needing to know”.

Some names of people who have questionable behavior, names of some who’ve told me their woes and a really random one.

Facebook clamored yesterday around a sighting of a pretty girl on the loose, darting in and out of, in front of cars on the most cluttered and crowded road in our city, Whiskey.

Comments became jokes, a few worried, a few diagnosing the addiction she was caught in and one or two sincere worries over why she was running.

Speculation.

When I worked, I did my best to support families and friends of those who lost someone to a suicidal choice.

I learned that we ask a lot of questions, those of us who don’t know this tragically unique trauma.

I wrote an essay and titled it “The Tragedy of Speculation”.

Because, I noticed I needed a reason to know this wouldn’t, couldn’t happen to me.

I needed to justify the behavior of another from a distance, so that I could have assurance. In my time there, doing the work, the foundation of me living by “but for the grace of God, I go there” became solid, steady and strong.

I am grateful.

So, I rounded out my list of praying, with “girl on whiskey”, gave the page a header.

pray without ceasing

trust in the Lord.

I hope the pretty girl gone crazy on Whiskey is better today. I pray she finds her way and that it is safe.

Steady.

And I pray for others who were the subjects of my speculation, snarky comments masked as concern and I open my palm to heaven remembering it’s God who knows the way I go.

Also, knows where I came from.

Now time for page two, I just remembered more names.

“pray continually,”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

September Hope

confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, hope, patience, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Trust, waiting, wonder
Hold On

Mid-September mornings are striated light on the thick green floor. The mysterious vine spills over, bent branches scattered with once purple blooms now fading to lavender.

The season is changing, the blooms done with their blooming and I’m torn between acceptance and longing for longer.

Does hope have a season? Will we need to wait for it to make sense again? Will I embrace the soul of hope and not pack it away like a summer dress, move it to the back of the closet, knowing it’s there and yet wondering if it makes sense?

I greeted someone this morning to ask a favor and I began with, “Good morning.” Ready to send the message, I paused and rewrote it

Adding, “I hope you’re feeling hopeful this morning.”

Hope is important to my friend and I.

Weeks ago, I typed a message more like an essay telling someone jolted by bad news that we don’t stop hoping, we don’t give up on hope.

We don’t “put off our hope”, don’t defer it like asking for more time to make good on a debt or commitment.

We don’t procrastinate hoping, I told her because that makes our hearts even more broken.

Instead, we keep hoping and we see the beautiful bloom, the tree of life.

Fulfillment.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭13:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I hope you’re feeling hopeful this morning.

“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭70:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I hope you remember all the times you’ve seen hoping bring fulfillment and I hope you will believe, believe again or simply start hoping it may just be true.

Jesus loves you.

You can hope.

Continue and believe.

Surface Things

anxiety, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, grace, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom

The older I grow, the more I know smaller things matter most of all.

A quilt your grandma made, a way of prayer that waits instead of begging and a sense of listening only age can grant you.

It’s no secret, I love words and I pay attention to their timing. I write first thought prayers every day.

Today, I thought of sorrow.

A word describing the emotion of heavy grief, loss, regret or dismay.

But, it wasn’t that way, felt softer like another favorite, “melancholy”.

I remembered a time a confident colleague challenged my assertion

“Everyone has a secret sorrow.”

He answered with, “Not me, I had no hardship or regrets at all.”

It puzzled me. I suppose it’s possible.

Not for most of us. Most of us long for different stories, past and present.

I believe it’s good to say so.

To those you love and trust or maybe a safe and objectively trained professional.

Or just a prayer.

Father, I surrender my sorrow. I will walk with my head lifted and my feet steady in your protection, your provision and the fulfilled promise of the redemption and unrelenting grace I know.

Amen

Secret or spoken sorrows become hope and healed joys when we believe it can be so.

What surfaces when you allow yourself to sit a minute in your thoughts?

Surrender what surfaces. We have a God who listens to our private prayers, whether sorrow or song.

Continue and believe.

Your needs are known.

Gethsemane

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, courage, curiousity, Faith, hope, mixed media painting, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Vulnerability, wonder
The Dock my Husband Built

Last week, the horizon greeted me like a welcome rescue as I turned to the skinny road from the wider, more busy highway.

Both frustrated by my anxiety over the big white ghost of a Tahoe with headlights like a cat following me closely all the way and determined to breathe and be okay, thumbs on the places 4 and 8.

So, the sun rising wide over my granddaughter’s home?

Redemption. Relief.

A whisper, a sigh.

I could go on.

“Dew on the Roses”, 2019

Thoughts rose up from an article or post I’d skimmed over, the question posed,

What is your Gethsemane?

Meaning, I supposed,

What did you ask God not to allow that He did anyway?

At first, I thought, how can we dare to compare our falling apart and asking to be spared with the request of Jesus?

Then, the mental list developed.

And then, another in contrast.

“Things that happened despite the things that happened”.

Angela’s Bible

I turned the ancient wisp of pages to Mark 14 in the Bible with penciled “sermons to self”. Angela, an educator from Bibb County, Ga. added her wisdom and thoughts back in 1937, became mine because of an estate sale.

Curiously, a page is torn down the middle.

I think now of the veil torn in two.

The darkness midday.

The verses that describe Jesus being anointed with a costly ointment by a woman who was chastised is no longer here. Neither, the Lord’s Supper.

The garden scene is preserved, the plea of Jesus face down in broken supplication remains.

And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it be possible, the hour might pass from him. Mark 14:34 , KJV, Oxford

And we know what happened next, the agony, the death and the resurrection.

We know what happened because of and despite the fear in the garden.

What are your “Gethsemane moments”?

What is “scaring you to death”?

Look up, redemption will find you

And, in time pale in comparison to the unwanted anguish.

I believe. I do.

In Private

Art, confidence, contentment, courage, curiousity, memoir, painting, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Vulnerability, wonder

Pay attention to the thoughts that surface, bubble up to overflow in private.

Certainties.

Morning Song

Yesterday morning, I closed the door and prayed on the bathroom floor.

No magic, no set expectation, just a plea that was private.

I humbled myself and asked for ease, for help.

Humbled, but not afraid, not cornered by my delay in praying nor in my honest admission of asking for help, for grace.

And, my prayer was answered. I was without pain, still am.

But none says, “Where is my Maker, who gives songs in the night?” Job 35:10

Around 3:00 a.m, I turned and wondered, why did I stop praying as much as before?

Praying in private, mostly.

Again, humbled by the tender realization, but not all the feeling of being punished or afraid.

More like, “I miss praying. I miss the peace of honesty and of talking to God about others and things that only we know”.

I miss me, humbled and yet, unafraid.

And so, God told me so. Told me in a way, I suppose,

I miss our conversations,

I miss the heart of you.

Painting Crosses

I delivered a painted cross yesterday, a housewarming gift that according to my friend was “extra”, other gifts and favors already given. I told her I’d like to gift another, for her office.

She gave me permission to choose the color, she’d be fine with white, she offered.

I’m thinking now about the depth in her eyes, pools of thought and kindness.

How I’ll capture that color, I don’t know yet.

I’ll pray.

I can pray. I am certain in that.

Unafraid and so very humbled.

Stories Told Lightly

Abuse Survivor, Art, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, hope, memoir, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, testimony, Vulnerability, wisdom, writing

“And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭7:50‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Given the choice, I prefer the quiet space alone. I love words, but prefer writing over speaking and even more so as I’m older and it’s showing evidence in both my appearance and ability.

I saw the sun on Monday morning and I thought of passages of Jesus coming to the gatherings, houses, and rescue of so many.

Healing as they welcomed him, restoring as they let Him in. Something about the sun on Monday caused me to wonder if Jesus ever wondered or even went back to say, “Who have you told about your healing?”

I wondered if the woman who had to stay home because of her bleeding happily began to sit and interact with others in the light of day. I wondered if the widow with the sparse amount of change she gave away kept living on little but with more happiness than any success could bring.

I wondered if the woman Jesus stopped the scribes from stoning spent all her days comforting other women who lost their way and needed to know life could change.

I’ve kept a piece of paper in my Bible since 2016, a sketch of an open book and a bullet list of why we all should tell our story.

Six years later, I’m surprised to even be asked.

But, I have and I have said “Yes.” The story is a more gentle one, not spattered with sorrow or bitter questions of why…it’s one of the tapestry of comfort in the form of art inspired by faith.

I’m grateful. I shared this morning as I move into this season of sharing and of learning.

Studying the lives of Sarai (Sarah) and Hagar is humbling me. Quick to be critical of Sarah and compassionate towards Hagar has always been my response to these women integral to God’s story. I even have notes in my Bible, all directed at mean old Sarah and as expected, feeling connected to Hagar, the one abused and shamed. I’m learning about culture back then, about many things.

I’ve got lots to learn as I prepare to follow through on a couple of requests I said yes to…neither of them sought by me. One in September and a second in October, sharing my story of how women in my Bible brought me back to painting and how their stories are teaching me.

I’ve got a whole lot more to learn, (I know I already said that 😊)how the love of God is not just for the beaten down women, but for the women who participated with words and actions against other women. It’s all about the power of God to redeem and the gentle call to us all…Come back, daughter.

There’s a bigger purpose for it all…pain, heartache, anger or regret. Hagar and Sarah experienced God’s love in equal measure. They were seen by God, completely.

I’ve got much more to learn and I’ve occasionally been corrected. That’s okay. I’m learning. But a sort of knock on my door came in the form of unexpected questions…can you guide women in your process of painting and speak on how connecting your art and faith has and is strengthening and changing you? Public speaking, live painting.😳

Honestly, it is frightening. I can write vulnerably about my journey and at one time I spoke quite often about the struggles of women, mental health and other things…it’d be a whole lot easier to keep sitting on the couch quietly drawing in my Bible or painting in the corner room in solitude or blogging occasionally.

But, maybe Jesus knocks and we let Him in and then He knocks again, saying come on out, let’s go and share, together let’s tell the story of the two of us in relationship. Let’s go and tell.

(I’ll be sharing more about the two events as the dates draw nearer.)

Continue and believe, learn and go.

Go in peace. You’ve been made well.

You have a story to tell.