I found a photo of my daddy today. He’s a barefooted little freckle faced boy with a perfect part in his hair.
He is grinning.
He looks like me. My children look like him. I see my grandson, Henry.
I ask myself honestly, really…do I or am I hoping it could be?
Because it’s not the honor of claiming resemblance, rather it’s the purity in the pose.
The abandonment to being a child.
Today was a grandma day. While the baby napped, I sat across from my granddaughter on opposite sofas.
Captivated by “Eleanor Wonders Why”, she laid on her tummy with legs bent and feet taking turns tap-tapping on the couch.
I sat and watched her contentment and her little lying on her tummy sort of secret dance.
I paused to remember when I’d last laid on the floor or the ground like that, a motion that says I’m in my own little world and it’s so happy here.
She caught me watching, smiled and brushed wild blonde bangs from her cheek.
And I’ve been thinking all evening of the next pretty day I shall grab my grandmother’s quilt, spread on the shaded cool grass and lie on my tummy with a book or with nothing and just think, think, think as I lift my feet up and with no time to consider, just keep doing it.
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.
I cried because the mean old thing called fear has been catching up, wrapping its arms around me like a stranglehold suffocating and silencing my wildest, most wonderful hopes.
I cried a little on the trip to find shelves to organize my paint (again).
Tears that said “not again”.
I’ve been hoping I was wrong about what I giddily decided was just right for right now.
I cried because my jaded conclusions drawn because of past hurts, harms, manipulative grooming and demands is putting me in the corner again.
I’ve been hoping I’ll hear they decided it was not right for me to paint and speak after all.
Then, I can sigh and sit quietly hidden in the identity that is me after all.
Alone and isolated, but safe on my own terms.
So, once the quiet tears stopped on their own, I reread the invitation to be photographed and have my artwork possibly featured with others in a future exhibit.
I reread, researched and respected the questioner, trusted it and him.
I said yes because my tears were not from fear, instead from fear that I may again be trapped in my decision to hide and that would mean
I wouldn’t go on.
It would mean ignoring how far God has brought me and that would be dishonorable.
Dishonoring myself and the one who made me to walk through doors I didn’t even knock on,
“You were not made to cower. You were made to create and to share what you make. You were made to be authentically brave.” me
Why do I write about such things, things like declining invitations because trauma triggers say “stay safe, stay humble, stay nothing, be nothing other than afraid and small”?
Because tears on the way to Target may be sweeter than you think, might be a tender gift.
Good tears, friends, very good.
I write because it helps me see the tears on the way to Target were not sad tears at all, rather than were cleansing, clarity, another swash of the trauma residual slate washed clean.
Tears that say okay, now
Take a breath, check your mascara, dab a little color on your lips.
Take a breath, say a secret prayer.
I assembled the shelves from Target remembering the time I felt so excited. I put the bed frame together for my newly relocated to Colorado son. He’d gone to run some sort of errands, returned to realize I’d done it all wrong.
This son of mine who invited his mama to accompany him cross country, the gift of this will not, does not, has not escaped me.
I lined all my pastels, pencils, watercolor acrylic and oil tubes of paint in their own places and threw the dried up paint away.
Then, I painted.
Not as planned or expected, but I painted.
I’ll paint tomorrow.
I’ll keep on.
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 KJV
With the songs and sermon, prayers and passages, I had church today while I painted.
The thought came to do both just as I’d decided to stay home. You’ve been running, racing and getting to do lots of things.
You’re learning, that kind of running will catch up, put you in slow motion.
Take your peace away.
Funny thing, I’d never painted while “going to church”. But, I felt compelled to do it and so, I listened as I prepped tiny canvases for color.
Just as I’d listened to a new take on an old favorite, Psalm 139. Whole house silent and I heard it differently, more clearly.
The Holy Spirit’s presence.
My soul knows it very well.
I wrote just these words beside my name in the margin. This beautiful psalm is one we read to remind ourselves we are known beyond our mind’s comprehension by God who made us.
Mostly, I’ve read this psalm to remind myself of God’s intentional love and to confirm that I’m here on purpose, not an accident.
Today though, in the quiet, I saw a little deeper meaning. God knew and knows that it’s our soul that guides and informs us, that the things we need to “hear” from him, we will hear with the nudge of conviction, correction and the deepest of joys that can’t be described in words, only the pure reaction in our core/our soul. Some say gut or conscience.
How do you describe the most intimate joy of being surprised by the ease of something you feared would go wrong?
How do you describe the peace in an unexpected emotional response to something as simple as a hug from a child?
A greeting at the door with a flower and a request for a jar?
How do you describe knowing what God wants you to know that you’ve been avoiding or are afraid it can’t possibly be true?
It’s close to impossible to fully convey the soul.
That may be why David ended this Psalm this way. Sort of a brave request of God.
I’m often afraid to ask such a question.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24 ESV
Because God knows all the beauty of us, He also knows the ways we get wrong.
Since He knows us so very well, wonderful creations, complex and complicated, we can trust that we’ll see the parts we sometimes get wrong.
If we’ll simply ask Him.
We don’t have to be afraid of the answer. It will come gently. After all, our Father is the maker of our very tender souls.
Today, I took my time, walked outside to breathe in the coming season, check on the mysterious morning glory and just because.
I stayed home.
Remembering lunch with my daughter and son on Saturday, rounding out my birthday celebrations, I recalled the sweetness of togetherness and the ways they’re so very different and deciding that’s quite okay.
My hopes for them, always been the same, are the very evidence of that very thing, hope.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14 ESV
There’s comfort in understanding more clearly. There is new perspective found in new knowledge.
I calculated the years of my daddy’s life events one evening. I recalled the information about the grandfather I never met, the details of his murder.
My older brother is good at research. He is skilled in looking into causes of things. He’s intelligent and a seeker of knowledge.
As I read of the circumstances of my father’s father’s death and then his mother’s passing later, I felt a veil lift, a veil that brought empathy, greater understanding.
From my calculations based on my father’s obituary and the details my brother shared,
My daddy was 13 when his daddy was taken from him. He grew into adulthood with his mama and siblings then went to Korea for how long, I don’t know.
He came home from war. Two days later, his mama died of a massive stroke. The grandmother I wish I’d known, along with the grandpa who contributed to the handsome man with the gentle spirit
And at times, tortured soul. No surprise.
I began to think of how life is such a mix of mystery and truth, vague recollections of family dynamics we just gloss over, afraid to look bravely enough at the vulnerability and pain of those we knew and know.
There’s a story buried, deeply concealed under most everyone’s story.
I believe this.
There’s me and three siblings who have raised wise children, children who are resilient even if they’re unclear how come. There are grandchildren who deep within have a yet untapped stream of strength from whence they don’t yet know.
I believe this.
Today, I sit with a sleeping kitten close by. I smile as I think this wouldn’t surprise my mama or daddy, even those long lost grandparents.
I smile because I imagine them wondering what took you so long to accept the truth of you.
The quiet one who is most satisfied quiet, the complex one always hoping someone will understand. The creature much like a cat, letting others near on her own terms.
I imagine my grandmother seeing me making notes and writing in my Bible. I see them all content in their contribution to who I am and who I’m becoming.
I see them happy about the heritage I’m creating for my children and grandchildren, even if messy or often unsure, always unseen, but hopefully remembered, my prayers.
They see, alongside my Father, my secret prayers.
Mystery and truth, I’ve come to believe that’s life,
life as a follower of Jesus who keeps following and life as a human in this wrought with pain world.
In the margin of Deuteronomy’s chapters, I find sketches of women, underlined reminders of being humbled by God.
I find a drawing of a door with the words above it “the secret things belong to the Lord.”(Deuteronomy 29:29)
I see notes to self to “pray big prayers”. I discover a sketch of the earth with my words “In His hands we dwell.”
The book of Deuteronomy, a retelling of the teachings of God by Moses, a reluctant teller of stories, a rescued child chosen by God although he was certain he was unworthy.
I see God in the history, mystery and truth of my family. I pray the same is said in the mystery of me.
“The Lord heard you when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me, “I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” Deuteronomy 5:28-29 NIV
Continue and believe.
Overcomers, we are.
“And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.” Deuteronomy 6:23 ESV
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” Psalms 23:1 NLT
I let my granddaughter run a distance ahead of me when we walk. There’s freedom in her feet, there is an overabundance of curious independence in her thoughts.
Taking care to watch her and yet, letting her be, letting her grow.
Letting her become full grown.
Watching her thrive.
My daughter has a plant called either “snake” or “mother in law’s tongue”. She asked my wise aunt, how to keep it alive.
My aunt quickly replied,
“Get up every day and tell it good morning and walk away.”
I suppose whatever it needs to thrive is somehow either inside its stiff leaves, woven together roots, or maybe it’s in the air around it. Maybe it is the home.
A parable in Ezekial, a rarely read book in my Bible was happened upon this morning. The clean page had a faint underlined place,
“Will it thrive?” Ezekiel 17:9
The parable was written to compare the ways of two leaders, a warning about the king of Babylon coming to Jerusalem and the importance of honoring The Lord’s covenant. History often confounds me. Still, the three words “will it thrive” caused me to sit with this passage.
A riddle to be understood, I sat with these several verses on this quiet Friday morning. I read and read again, God’s Spirit assuring me there’s a truth for you here.
Two vines planted from the branch and seed of a twig transported by an eagle.
One grew and spread near the abundant water and rich soil, it grew outward, freely, vines spreading and branches putting out new boughs.
The other wrapped its young roots around the eagle and became dependent upon it for water and its hope to become a noble vine.
Yet, when it needed to be transplanted, free to grow, the roots would be found weak, easy to be blown away, bent by the wind and eventually wither.
I think of my attention to things God has given me to contribute my part in their growth.
Naturally, I think of my children.
A daughter who’s a wife and mommy, a leader in vocation and learning, outspoken and deeply caring.
A son who is Colorado and lives near a park known for its majestic cedars. A son, who subtly agreed when I mentioned another mother saying “every child gets to write their own story”.
“That’s right.” he said.
They are thriving and becoming even more fully grown.
It’s a wonder to me, because I surely often overwatered, fertilized with unsolicited advice and often looked on too closely to circumvent uprooting of what I felt meant thriving.
So, how does growth happen best?
Not getting too wrapped in the care and nourishment of our thriving, established long ago by our Father.
If growth is intended for us, it will grow when we let it be.
Because of God, my growth and I have all I need.
Like the healthy plant that never gets watered. Whatever is within it has it thriving. Letting it be seems to be the answer.
I journaled in the margin of the smooth thin paper what God hopes I’ll let linger.
Roots that are planted in good places of abundance and then left to spread on their own are more likely to thrive than the roots I cling tightly to, so tightly they wrap themselves around me stunting the intended growth of my calling, art, writing, my contributions to others.
Roots allowed to spread without being overnourished, overthought or overworked are the roots of long living, lasting evidence of hope.
Yes, it will thrive.
Let it happen. Let it grow. Contribute as needed, as led by the Creator of you.
Hope will grow and thrive.
Continue and believe.
“He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” Psalms 23:2-3 NLT
Early morning Tennessee rain has changed to an aura of grey as we move towards another state.
Yesterday’s drive was different, big city construction on roads and a sense oh how and when will the traffic ease.
But, we made it and were welcomed by the quaint little house in the city known for music.
We didn’t venture towards the fame. We had quesadillas seated under walls with screens of baseball games.
This morning the interstate is a soft ribbon through a border of trees leading us towards an arbor of even more.
I’ve just turned to notice horses in a field and a newly plowed place for seeds.
I told my son how I love how he loves good music.
Serenaded together, we are.
The Labrador door is sleeping well.
“We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!” Ephesians 2:10 TPT
Last night, we turned in early. Me earliest, allowing my son his own time. I paused a podcast at the place of it becoming annoying chatter. I closed my eyes and prayed myself to sleep as I heard the jet it seemed very close overhead.
I thought of flying. I thought of the comfort I felt and I slept.
Thinking I believe God’s promises. I believe the writers of the promises they saw come true too.
I believe God knew I’d be traveling across the country with my son and his dog and I believe He knew there’d be an Air BnB an exit away from the Nashville airport.
And that I wouldn’t hear the airplane until I’d finished praying.
I drive the trio of two lane roads to my morning destination, a right turn, a right turn and another and a final sharp right that leads me on clay road with deep moss covered ditches holding up deeper rooted trees.
I think of my children. Mamas of adult children do this, just are less apt to share so much.
More inclined to keep the thoughts to ourselves as if we’re not supposed to have them.
I think of the vast differences of the two, a daughter and a son. Different locations, one like the mouse called country and the other called city.
Likeness in their initiative, their determination, their deeply instilled must have passed from parents and grandparents, work hard, work is a representation of you.
It’s an odd thing to want to quell honorable ambition, to encourage them not to do too much, to not exhaust themselves.
Hard because you remember the you they saw as a professional, the little girl and boy who didn’t quite understand it all maybe, just knew their mama worked hard at hard things.
So, you encourage self-awareness, you hint at balance, you warn of self-care and of being certain you know it’s not work that gauges your value, it is peace at the end of the day and again the next morning.
My mornings have a pattern now. Read something in my Bible, sip coffee, write some things down, circle the names.
On two or three days I drive in the dark and on good days I’m not tailgated or blinded by truck lights undimmed. I arrive and situate myself for the day, a visitor and helper.
If there is time and the Spirit leads, I pray. I watch the windows and listen for the waking child.
I anticipate the sun rising across the wide sky. I step outside and say “Good Morning, God”. Later, I do the same with the baby.
“For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.” Psalms 108:4 KJV
On Tuesday, the sky was only grey mixed with clouds dispersing to bring the morning. Clouds like in a children’s picture book, fat white fluffs with underbellies defined with thick crayon.
Made me think I could grab one.
The clouds that shifted all day that began with not a whole lot of tangerine hue, instead a spew of sparsely filtered white either coming down from heaven to us or reaching back up.
Either way, I noticed. I noticed God.
I stood and honored it, the way God substituted happy orange for quiet iridescence.
I woke remembering today.
Remembering conversations with my children, the authenticity of them, the timing, the words unafraid to be spoken, the replies of gratefulness and of
There is solace there.
Gratitude immeasurable there.
Mercy for mothering mistakes, the truth of us now with God’s grace covering them all and the acceptance of new days.
Continue and believe. Continue towards peace today.