Light Will Stay

Angels, confidence, contentment, Faith, family, grace, hope, memoir, Peace, Redemption, Stillness, Vulnerability, waiting, wonder

“Running away was not in her character.”, Google provided this definition for character, the word that settled as I’d read in Isaiah about Mary before there was Mary.

The Giver

Just now, I’ve named this windowsill decoration. I’ve been pondering why I love her, why she comes down from the attic every December.

She’s not an angel as angels are known. She has no wings, no halo, no aura. She’s holding a tray with an unadorned cypress and a few red apples.

I see her as one who brings, one who offers and loves.

Quietly

Irregardless and unrelentingly.

Silly me, it’s a ceramic statue.

But, she has no shoes on her feet, the garland of green crowning her head is only leaves and so, I see and

I sort of see me.

Little have I to give in comparison to others if giving is measured by grand or perfect.

Little am I in comparison to many, my gifts to the world pale in comparison.

25th

Last night, in the before bed tidying, I discovered some of the manger scene had gone missing.

The little felted figures, the angel, a wise man, a shepherd and Joseph were nesting like a family of birds in the tree.

I smiled with the discovery.

I’m not sure the reason, perhaps just boredom or longing for something I can’t know.

What the mover of these had in mind for these or for me.

They’ll stay there until packed away for next year and when I look at the intentional redecoration, it’s celebration that I see.

Celebration, not imperfection in my tiny bit tedious decorating this year.

The Manger Tree

How is it I’ve never thought of Mary as a “giver”, one who questioned the reason behind things; but, set her heart on her part in the story, her character in the scene at the manger.

Mary gave.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9‬:‭6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I have a canvas on the easel resting with edit number “several”. I’m envisioning the position of the figure sort of off center.

Now walking away, staring into some mysterious distant place, I see her being reimagined.

I believe she may be a “keeper” to remind me.

A settled soul facing forward, a gift of something fruit or flower cradled at her chest and she may be simply waiting.

She may have the stance of offering not taking.

And I believe I’m sweetly loving the thought of that.

The thought of giving, not expecting, of resting and not resisting.

Of waiting for what’s within me to create what’s meant for me not to be without.

“The Giver” will be the name of the painting.

This morning, by accident I found the words I thought might be in a book about the moon.

“The sun will beam and the moon will glow. The light will stay, little child. God is with you today and tonight. The light will stay, child. The light will stay.” Me (Look at the Moon) (?)

Light will stay, the giver has come.

Merry Christmas, all.

Continue and believe.

Stay. Good things are coming your way.

Little Lights

Abuse Survivor, Angels, confidence, contentment, courage, curiousity, doubt, Forgiveness, grace, hope, kindness, mercy, Redemption, Stillness, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder

Someone in a prayer group I’m a member of commented, “Pray for me because of this root of bitterness trying to grow.” And the replies understood the concerns, the need for prayer…even urgency.

Because bitterness begins in secret and then the roots grow thick and stronger and threaten us until they take over.

What is bitterness? I could share my list of things that are secret and of things I’ve vented in conversation with others (about others).

Roots destroy fertile ground. Love and peace cannot thrive when bitterness keeps growing.

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12‬:‭14‬-‭15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

More importantly, our roots destroy relationships with others. Bitterness that makes sense only makes us sadder.

Sometimes I look around and see how very different I am and feel from others and I remind myself to bring peace not judgment, love not frustration and a subtle but steady light that points to the source of my joy (even if it’s dim on the days questions, doubt or bitterness crouch at my door.)

When Elizabeth was born, I sang “Deep and Wide” over and over and over. I can’t say why (other than God) I sang it over and over from the first moment I cradled her tiny head in my hands.

With Henry, it’s been “This Little Light of Mine” and like his sister, he doesn’t seem to mind that it’s the same words over and over. I want him to see my light as I want Elizabeth to know the depth of mine and God’s love.

Love one another.

Don’t grow bitter.

Your life has no space for hatred to take over. Only room for joy to grow high enough to create a canopy for all who stand near you.

“Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13‬:‭2‬ ‭ASV‬‬

I’ve never met an angel or have I perhaps, only dimmed and unnoticed by distraction?

I believe I shall notice more gently, silence the bitter banter of all other.

Continue and believe.

You are loved.

Here Now

Abuse Survivor, anxiety, contentment, courage, memoir, Redemption, Stillness, surrender, traumatriggers, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder
Keep Walking On

I pulled the brittle brown fronds from the weary looking ferns in the heavy heat of the day.

I’d watered the hydrangeas that bloomed rich cobalt blue last summer, but not so this season. I paused and looked out at the open field of green grass that was a sandy field last year. I couldn’t hear what she was saying but it seemed my granddaughter was instructing the dog “Eli” in some sort of life lesson.

And a thought came to me about me.

This season will soon be past, this Fall you’re gonna see its worth and it’s going to feel like an end to your grieving.

The thought seemed important, the timing of it unexpected, but welcomed.

I’m weary of myself. I think it’s time to acknowledge, I am here. This is now. I am not there or back then.

I am here.

Yesterday, God had me thinking about the man who couldn’t walk for 38 years and couldn’t get in the water to be healed. Today, I woke thinking of this healing after a night with a crazy/heavy dream…a dream that caused me to wonder (again) why “those things” happened to me.

“One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.”
‭‭John‬ ‭5:5-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Just because I’m curious, I always want to know things like…well, once he walked after all that time did he think he might be a cripple again or like the woman bent over with a disability or the woman with the flow of blood for so many years…did they ask Jesus…why’d you allow this horrible thing in the first place and why’d you let it handicap me for so long?

These questions are nowhere (at least I haven’t found them) in my Bible.

Maybe the reason is simple, these questions are not beneficial to our strength and sanctification.

Maybe it’s that God knows we waste the purpose and value of our redemption when we gaze at our damaged places so much more than our deliverance.

When we think of our deliverance instead of God’s delay, we can live out our own healing and that healing offers hope to others…it never hinders their believing in that very same hope for themselves.

God is changing me here, sometimes it feels like I’m kicking and screaming in a gentle sulky rebellion; but, it’s a change that’s needed, a change that forgets the former and believes in the truth of promised new things.

One last thought, it’s not easy to stop focusing on your self in a time and culture that promotes self-obsession, self-promotion to be the best, and for me, self-absorption with the ever looming “why me?”

You are here. That was then. You’re not there.

Continue and believe.

The Color of Story

Art, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, family, hope, memoir, Peace, praise, Prayer, Redemption, Stillness, Trust, walking, wonder

For a time, all the books were shelved with the pages, not the spines facing forward. Another time, prompted by some sort of famous person, all the spines with titles were organized by color.

Often, I take the book covers off a new book, curious over the color chosen by the publishers. The colors are typically soft, often blue, tan or yellow.

They’re muted, not noisy.

Soothing.

The star quilt is the one I chose. My grandmother died and we all gathered around the cedar chest to pick a quilt from the perfectly folded pile. Three quilts came back to Carolina that day. My daughter chose a soft blue sort of willowy with a ring pattern. My son chose the largest with a spattering of vivid, I decided, story telling squares.

There’s a sweet spot on my walking road that caused me to stop long ago. Sometimes with the Labrador, often alone. The vast valley of green field bordered by forest always caught the sun going down and the weeds, grass, wildflowers seemed to be wearing halos.

I’d stop, neighbors maybe looking on and I’d capture the blue sky scattered with clouds over the splendid field.

Then someone, a young couple, decided to put a double-wide home in the space on the end.

It seemed an intrusion to pause there to think. It wasn’t the same place, the field felt somehow disgraced by the change.

But, yesterday evening, I approached the hill that curves around to the big open field. The sky reminded me of waves building, like the tide’s rhythm. I paused for a photo.

As I continued towards home, I saw a girl hurrying down our driveway. I met her. She told me she had mail that might belong to us and then asked for an egg. She told me she lives in the trailer, has a baby, a boyfriend who works too much and a mama who is sick with a second bout of cancer. Then she told me she can’t find the people who should have this handful of junk mail, coupons and such and then asked again, “Do you have an egg?” She wanted to make some cornbread.

So I gave her two eggs, told her my name and that I would pray for her mama.

And she crossed the road back to her home, the robin’s egg blue trailer in the field I loved.

And now, love again.

My star quilt is used to cover a hole in the arm of my then new loveseat. The Labrador we love beyond measure ate a chunk out of the arm as a wild and excited puppy, home alone.

So, I folded my clean quilt, beige and blank side showing to match the furniture and to disguise the damage.

The stars’ colors never showing.

This morning, I’m seeing the change, the quilt folded before bed with the star pattern showing. The colors are dancing next to the cobalt blue of a pillow and the rich green of a painting I painted and framed before I ever had the guts to use the word “artist”.

The same green of the field with tiny new pines is the same green of the grass on this painting and the moss from so much rain, a pillow for a feather I spotted walking.

I suppose I’m noticing God again after a season of just continuing towards what we all felt might soon be better.

I’m considering all the places I’ve missed in the interim and acknowledging some grace I can give myself.

Get chances to give others.

Because the places of goodness in my life hold the promise of more; even more lines, color, and interruptions that aren’t misdirections, detours or disasters.

Simply colors added to my story.

Just so pleasant, the peace of accepting them.

“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭16:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God is everywhere. Don’t forget to notice.

Keep going.

Your colors are showing.

The Way Forward

Abuse Survivor, confidence, contentment, courage, daughters, Faith, grace, hope, memoir, painting, Peace, Redemption, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, wonder

I can’t recall the exact number, but I’ve been thinking of the research that has proven we can’t survive long without water.

Water sustains us. I can go hours lost in painting and forget all I’ve eaten is a banana; but, I’ll notice my thirst. I pause for a sip of water.

This morning, I dined alone. With a set agenda, I made breakfast a priority, a good one. I sat at the dining room table rather than standing at the bar. I savored cheesy grits, eggs scrambled and sausage. I drank cool orange juice with bits of sweet pulp.

I paused.

A very large painting is hanging on the brick wall. It is simple. An imperfect watery path snakes up the middle.

Today, I saw a path instead of marsh and I considered changing the light grey blue to a sandy beige dusty dirt.

I saw the tree-line where the path gets thin. I saw the opening, the invitation to leave the hidden places, the run and hide, flee from harm wilderness calling me forth.

Calling me forward.

Into the broad place of abundance.

“Come back, daughter.” is not a sentence you’ll find in the Bible, not exactly.

Thirsting for safety, thirsting for relief, longing for understanding and deciding hiding is better than seeking, we, like the woman at the well, Hagar and countless others prefer to hide.

And we’re met by the one who gives water, living water.

And we’re given the chance to consider where we are coming from and where we are going.

We’re told we are seen and known and we’re astounded by the surprise of that very thing.

Feel free to use those three words, come back daughter (son or child) when you find yourself longing to run and hide or feeling unknown, unseen, misunderstood or even ridiculed.

Come back to the one who knows you.

“The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
‭‭John‬ ‭4:11, 15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Return to the well.

Stay longer this time.

Won’t Stop Believing

Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, painting, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Stillness, testimony, Trust, Truth, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭5:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Pink Sky Pause

Last night, I sat poolside as the distant sky settled down in a display of pink. I’d walked a long way again, trying not to let the old body with achy joints catch up. Is it humidity or is it age and wear and tear, lack of good habits catching up?

My body is, has been changing.

I stopped social media scrolling when the sky grew more splendid. Stopped reading what researchers are sharing, what believers are noticing, what culture is trying to correct.

People, mostly young ones are conflicted about their faith. Believers are sharing commentaries and YouTubes that resemble apocalyptic horror films. Culture is confusing me about what to follow, have I been following wrong for so long?

Have I not loved well, loved like Jesus?

I returned to the practice of Bible reading today that directs me to an OT passage, Psalms, and a NT passage.

My Bible

II Kings, author unknown, follows the first book called Kings and details “the saga of disobedience” according to my Book Introductions in the back. (My Bible was a gift in 2015. You may know the story. It’s the first one I’ve ever felt the freedom to get honest with, have its honesty lead to my return to art. If you’re curious, it is a Crossway, ESV Journaling Bible)

II Kings, Chapter 9 is a violent one. I won’t pretend to understand it all, the prophesy, the lineage, the murders, the deciding who should be king.

But, I noticed one thing, a revelation type read.

They were looking for peace.

I believe they’d been looking a long time and probably long into the next books and chapters I read, I’ll discover that the people who were far from God kept looking.

Looking for peace.

Before the murders and executions recorded here, seven times there was a question of “Where is peace?” and a proclamation by King Jehu that there’d be no peace until Jezebel was dead.

What do you have to do with peace? Is it peace? Two questions asked repeatedly in five verses. (II Kings 9:17-22)

Jezebel died violently, her remains devoured by dogs and many others were massacred.

More warnings, more rulers, more seeking of peace.

I’m not a Bible scholar. I seek to understand what God is saying to me to clarify my confusion, to comfort my dismay, to guide me into Christlikeness.

So that I can be at peace.

So that I can emanate peace through my believing, toward others and I hope, through art.

Little Churches

The back of my Bible guide led to Psalm 141 and then the books of John just before the tiny Book of Jude.

“But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭141:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Second John is a letter written to a lady and her children (likely, a congregation). I found this to have a sweetness in tone, the offering of grace, mercy and peace, along with a gentle warning of what not to let in my house.

“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,”
‭‭2 John‬ ‭1:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The wolf at the door, the author of confusion, the purveyor of doubt, the stirrer up of strife and trauma triggers.

I won’t let him in my house.

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Jesus
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I won’t stop believing.

Believing in the creator of pink sunsets, precious babies, quiet oceans, and people like me who almost gave up on themselves.

I won’t stop believing.

I pray you don’t either.

Dear God, return us as we wander from you, caught in the tension of what others say of you and our embrace of who you’ve shown us you are. May we remember and return to the notice of you all around us. Help us to pause from the noise of culture to seek you, the path to peace. Because of mercy, Amen

Alone With My Faith

Abuse Survivor, beach, confidence, contentment, Faith, grace, hope, memoir, patience, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Stillness, testimony, traumatriggers, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder
Edisto Beach Shells

I woke without alarm and quietly found my clothes. Carefully, I remembered the sandals were on top. The contacts were turned right side up and the bathroom window gave enough light for a splash of cold water on my cheeks.

The old door creaked as I closed it. Bare feet on the steps, I saw the pink behind me as I thought nothing of walking alone on our last vacation morning.

The promise of grandeur was kept. I thought if I could touch the far away sun, I’d never let go.

Edisto Beach

Decided that’s why we’re not made to hold such things, we’d cling so fiercely we might never see from a distant perspective.

How deep is your faith?”

I asked myself this morning, the question in the tune of the Bee Gee’s song.

Edisto Beach

Riding home from a week away, I enjoyed what my husband calls a “conversation hiatus”, a thing he will never fully understand. I’m just glad he allows it. I thrive on quiet. I require a flushing of the mental overload, a reset of sorts, a not always pleasant assessment of events, conversations, interactions and pushed to the side for later thoughts.

Processing, becoming prayers. Seeing from a distance, not holding tight or looking too close.

Heal what is hurting. Mend what is broken. Speak what needs to be heard. Continue with me, Lord, these lessons I might begin to live, to teach.

Edisto Beach

Find me, Lord, where I left you.

Keep changing my perspective, Father. Keep redeeming what is not mine to remake.

Psalm 23 became a plea in a hospital bed for me back in 2019. Maybe I made it more than it was, the scary episode of vertigo that refused to quit. Likely, I did make it bigger than it was.

Because it wasn’t the episode, it was the fear. It was the trigger of being forced to quit or being grabbed and shaken, being unable to escape a violent grip.

Over and over for months, I said to myself.

“The Lord is my shepherd. I have everything I need.”, taking the opening line of a well known Psalm and making it mine.

Now, I prefer a different translation.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

One that reminds me no matter what, how, or when…I shall not be in want.

My faith will and has sustained me.

In the morning when I rise, I’ll keep considering my perspective. In all that affects me, I will pause and examine the ways I have changed.

I’ll give myself a minute and I’ll ask, “How deep is your faith.”

Knowing that’s all that matters and knowing that’s all and only what makes me, me.

And I shall not want.

“…that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭2:3‬ ‭ESV

Edisto Birds

I shall continue.

Continue and believe.

Hope you do too.

Looking For Day

anxiety, beach, birds, contentment, courage, family, hope, Peace, Prayer, rest, Stillness, Vulnerability, waiting, wonder

Windows without screens were raised in the dark. No breeze through the night, only murmurs of others and the occasional firefly spark.

Someone had an accident, downed a power pole they say fueled the entire island.

Streets welcomed walkers, children giggled and competed on their bicycles. We joined the porch sitters who hoped it wouldn’t take long.

All night long was powerless, no covers, nothing but time for intermittent prayers and mind wondering worries, sleeping in our undies with the door open.

Morning began with the chatter of insects, birds, other sounds I had no idea signaled the morning to wake up.

I tiptoed through the beach house and decided to go, to go find the new day, the sea and birds.

And they came and kept coming, their flight like a dance and a song.

God’s hands on the harp, the long and low strokes causing melody and chorus.

Rhythm.

The lifting of the wings, the beaks straight and strong, the dipping down and the floating back up

Crescendo.

And I, with no charge on my phone for more photos, making it 10,001.

But, these and this came before

Saying, sit and rest.

The show is not yet done.

The morning after the blackout night, windows open and a mind that refused to be quiet.

The electricity returned before morning and rather than sleep I went looking for God, looking for day.

I believe I will again tomorrow.

Sit in the awe and wonder, listen to God.

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
‭‭Psalm ‬ ‭5:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We Don’t Know

Angels, Art, Children, curiousity, daughters, family, grace, grandchildren, heaven, memoir, Prayer, Stillness, wisdom, wonder

“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.

She’s watching.

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.

I noticed.

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 wondered.

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.

We miss you down here, Doris Evelyn Peacock.

The Shepherd’s Way

bravery, confidence, courage, curiousity, Faith, hope, patience, Peace, Redemption, Stillness, Trust, waiting, wisdom, wonder

“7:00, not 6:30”, she reminded me on that particular night before morning.

The difference meant daylight, farm trucks and people headed in from the country.

Tops of the fields green with grass before becoming hay glistening like gold.

Cats creeping from their tentative sleeping place, homes lit by just one light.

The difference meant driving straight into the rising sun, so spectacular I refused to blind it with my visor.

And so, for a stretch of road I couldn’t bear to look away, only to creep ahead slowly by memory.

Day unfolding to not sure what, only that I had been sweetly awakened to life yet again.

To take hold and keep it, the difference in the day in the morning a little later.

And hoping to hold that awakened state of my soul a little longer.

7:00 not 6:30, sun not moon, seeing only what I can, not around the curve ahead.

Sometimes forgetting the way, lost in my own directions, returning like David or the questioning one, Thomas, to the way safely and surely forward.

The shepherd’s way.

“He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Father, help me to follow your lead.