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.

Such a Love, Pristine

Abuse Survivor, Angels, Art, birds, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, happy, memoir, painting, patience, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, surrender, Trust, Vulnerability, walking, wonder, writing

I found two feathers walking yesterday and then a third. The first pair were mostly grey and I held tightly to them as I walked. No pockets in my clothes, I held on, clutching them gently. I rounded the corner to the steep hill and decided to drop them, said a prayer of 3 words, “art and writing” and walked on.

Walking on as I decided against more hills, I let my feet take me towards home. I glanced down in the grassy border and spotted the third feather, a white one. Pristine and soft as velvet, I gathered it up. It was pure and undamaged in a way I’d never seen. I walked on home with great wonder over the assurance that my 3 word prayer had been heard.

I added the feather to my collection, cherishing the words of victory and the promises of Jesus.

Shortly after, a friend I hadn’t spoken to in many months called to say she had an opportunity for me to speak to a group of women in October. “Would I pray about it?” she asked. Two thoughts linger, there’s that open door and I am willing, not sure fully able, but willing. A third, October gives me even more time for courage, grace and healing, God’s wise provision.

“All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What we see as too damaged or defeated in our hopes to keep moving forward, God sees as victory for us, a peaceful one.

I pray you keep pursuing this peace or that you seek it if you never have. I pray for you my prayer for me.

Lord, help me keep walking towards you, towards peace. Help me to remember I am yours.

One or The Other

Abuse Survivor, Art, artist calendar, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, fear, grace, hope, memoir, mercy, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Stillness, surrender, traumatriggers, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

When I think of David, I think he seems to have lived a life marked by thinking one way or the other. He was either desperate or joyous, defeated by his own sins or bravely standing on God’s character and promises for him, for us too.

Honest, David was honest.

“In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭31:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What are the thoughts you think about yourself, your value, your image, your light meant to be shared with others?

Are the things people say of you consistent with the things you think and say of yourself?

“You will look to Him for gladness and refreshment when depressed, for moderation and recollection when in good spirits, and you will find that He will never leave you to want.” Francois De La Fenelon (1651-1715), Joy and Strength

Last night, I dreamt of drowning.

I heard myself catching my breath as I came up from the deep, a frantic exhale. I found my soft heavy blanket. I let it rest over my torso and I processed the possibility that I’ve been pulled downward again by the unanswered questions of my past, the agony of being unable to piece it all together peacefully.

I’m not able on my own I’m reminded.

“I’m not sleeping lately.” I told my husband. “Did I wake you?” “No.”, he answered.

“Good.” I added, thinking there’s no need to trouble him with the dream of drowning.

Instead, carry on with the new day.

As I fed the cat my eyes went to the calendar and the verse I found fitting for January.

The theme is courage.

I sat with coffee, lit my candle although it was morning and secretly asked God to come and find me again.

Turned to January 21st in my devotional. There again, the verse about courage.

“Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭31:24‬ ‭KJV‬‬

I recorded three thoughts and let them lead me to process my worry, my concern over who I am, who I was, who I’m becoming.

I’m not who people think I am. I’m fragile. I’m faltering. I doubt the promises of God quite often and I exhaust myself with worrying.

Then, God brought reply.

Same type replies he gave the ancient souls like David and Francois when they found themselves despairing.

You’re not who you were and perhaps rarely who people say you are, but you are fully known and loved.

I am who Jesus says I am.

Three self-reflective questions led to honest self-assessment and the possibility of a different perspective according to Jesus.

Could it be the deepest place of questions can answer the longings you feel are best kept to yourself?

“In mercy you have seen my troubles, and you have cared for me; even during this crisis in my soul I will be radiant with joy, filled with praise for your love and mercy. You have kept me from being conquered by my enemy; you broke open the way to bring me to freedom, into a beautiful, broad place.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭31:7-8‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Possibly, we’re all one or the other quite often. We sense ourselves falling into questions and despair. We stay there longer than we’d hope. We acknowledge our position.

We’re brave like David.

We ask for help.

Continue and believe.

Take courage, the ceaseless gracious hand of God, take courage.

Tender Mercies

Advent, Christmas, contentment, courage, Faith, freedom, grace, hope, mercy, Peace, praise, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, surrender, Truth, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

Because of the tender mercy of our God…

Luke 1:78

I didn’t realize it at the time, but yesterday on a couple of occasions, I felt God seeing me. I felt Him near. The veil between earth and heaven was translucently thin.

In my car, with a list of places to deliver art and calendars, in between being among hurried and intent on shopping people, a playlist emerged. Songs I hadn’t heard before both caused me to pray and to praise. A deep connectedness to God’s spirit within me, led to warm tears and others to a lifted open hand.

No wonder, I’ve been resting with the words, “Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay.”

My favorite people in the Bible are the vulnerable and uncertain ones. I’m drawn to Job. I’m strengthened by David. I adore Martha and can relate to Jonah. Thomas, the one who needed proof and wasn’t afraid to admit it. I love the ones who wondered.

“Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
‭‭John‬ ‭20:29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Who believe and cling to times when their belief was solidified, made tangible evidence.

The Lord is near.

Believe. Accept the freedom of a sweeter commitment, the language of the heart, not rational.

Heavenly.

Lord, I believe.

I believe in your tender mercies.

In moments so tender,

So tender, a hand on mine, a strong hug.

Love so true, a touch of your hand in mine.

Time To Grow

Advent, confidence, contentment, doubt, Faith, hope, love, memoir, Peace, praise, Prayer, rest, surrender, Trust, wisdom, wonder

The orchid, delicately teasing me with the buds barely visible, has been nothing other than knotty branches since I (read the instructions) shook the dust off the gnarled roots and repotted it.

God will help her when morning dawns.

While the dollar store Christmas cactus is popping out fuchsia shoots.

Left alone, barely watered since a Christmas last year with no blooms even hinting.

I thought “cease striving” last week, worried over the decision to order an extra 100 calendars from the printer.

I told myself, based on your history, forget about it, let it go, it’ll come back around, the interest in the calendar with your art.

Today, I woke at 5:00 and thought again, “cease striving”.

Let come what may.

Let things grow in their own time and way, not yours.

These are words I tell myself with regularity.

I opened my Bible to find Psalm 46:10 to read the psalmist’s same recommendation.

It wasn’t there. Instead, the words are “be still” in every translation I searched for comparison.

Somewhere I, and I believe others decided we may need a tone more disciplined, more direct.

“Cease striving”…with perhaps, once and for all added for emphasis, at least for me.

Psalm 46 is about rest. It is an exhortation to remember the strengths of God, his handiwork and plans.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Selah”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭46:1-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Continue and believe.

Be still. Cease striving.

Finding God

Abuse Survivor, Angels, Children, Faith, family, grace, Peace, rest, surrender, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom
Angels Always Near

“You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I lost my glasses on Monday, the cute ones, the ones a little bolder than my typical tortoise or black. Like most people my age, there are spare pairs everywhere. But, not on Monday.

We drove down the pretty road bordered with deeply rooted trees. Her mama had left a forgotten treat in the mailbox.

So early in the day, my readers must have slipped from my pocket or fell from my lap.

It’s an interesting dependence I now have on them, like a security blanket for a baby.

I catch myself thinking I have a pair like a headband only to pat the top of my head to be sure they’re there and find only hair.

On Monday, I was without them. I warned people I responded to in text. They were unbothered by my typos.

By the end of the day I was managing just fine. My daughter didn’t find them on the road and I decided, oh well they’re just gone.

I gathered my things in the passenger seat once I was at home. Glanced down in the space between seat and console and saw a strange sight. I decided my husband had left some stuff in my car.

A little glass case, black with faux fancy logo with a pair of readers in the color peridot, my birthday stone.

I lost them so long ago.

Not as fancy as the blue, but I loved them and missed them.

Why am I writing about finding reading glasses?

It’s the thought that came.

The thought about good in God’s time and God’s way, about the way answers come when we accept we don’t know.

The way God is the very best at the “art of surprising”.

On Tuesday, my granddaughter wanted another treat. It was close to lunchtime and she had a slight runny nose, but would never tell her grandma she was feeling bad.

(Memories of her strong mama here, rarely voicing a need or trouble.)

I let her lay on the floor, not flailing but fussing. Let her let her mood play out, allowed her to reconcile what she wanted with what her person in charge decided was best.

From the kitchen, I heard her whine change to elation.

“I found Gamma’s cross! Grandma, I found Gamma’s cross!”

She ran over and handed me the tiny gold cross, the one Gamma lost months ago and we all searched until we settled on not finding and stopped searching.

I called Gamma. Told her, “Guess what?” and quoted our precious granddaughter.

She found the cross.

Under the couch, found when a little toddler tantrum decided to get quiet and lift the fabric of the couch to think. How she spotted it is really nothing short of a miracle.

Yesterday, we had a sweet day together. The back seat of my car strewn with a used pull-up, tiny books, little cards and juicy cups, and “guess what?”

My fancy blue glasses.

God is good always. Always present, always waiting for us to find Him.

I had a thought yesterday as I listened to the words of a popular song “My Jesus”.

I thought “I don’t feel the nearness of Jesus now.”

An honest admission that confirms feelings aren’t always the most accurate assessments of our joy or our pain.

To admit a lack opens our hearts to a closer examination of whether we’ve been working too hard to find God and forgetting He’s never left us.

Like the glasses, appearing when I decided I’d never find them, they were waiting for my discovering.

How does it make you feel to know that God is sovereign, knows everything?

David understood.

His sinful choices, his wandering away always led to an unrelenting confession,

God you never left me, I once again lost my way.

Choosing to know God knows everything about me is either scary and vulnerable or it is surprisingly and steadily comforting.

It’s our choice.

Either way God never misplaces us, forgets where he left us or refuses our finding when we go on our own way.

There’s a tiny mustard seed charm lying somewhere that came unglued from my bracelet.

It’s been lost so long I’ve stopped searching.

Gamma and I are hoping our angel finds it. Boy, that would be some surprise!

But, if not all is good with my faith.

With God and I

It is well with my soul and God is close.

Prone to wonder and wander.

My Father certainly knows my way.

“God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.

See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting way— the path that brings me back to you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:23-24‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Continue and believe.

Find God today.

Thinking

confidence, contentment, Faith, family, hope, memoir, Peace, Redemption, surrender, Vulnerability, wonder

Every window called me closer, the horizon layered in a display of indigo, grey and powdery blue.

The clouds thick and volcanic in puffed up borders.

The Day 25 of 31 days of writing prompt is “think”. Rather than thinking immediately, “I got this”

I got nothing.

Other than the decision to continue learning that my thoughts are directly related to my feelings and my feelings have fault lines in the places they’re unavoidably connected to past trauma.

So, today when anxiety threatened over something similar to long ago, instead of bracing for battle and chastising myself and my thinking by saying to self “This is not that.” in a “snap out of it” tone

I elaborated by thinking, “No,

This is not that. But it is the same feeling.”

Then I gave myself permission to do a calm comparison.

I have feelings. But I’m not the actual feeling.

I can feel uncertain and still have a little self- aware conversation and become more certain.

Now, here I am at dusk. The clouds of morning giving way to night.

I’m still captivated.

Maybe I’m closer to viewing life this way.

Captivated.

The geese are now approaching.

I think of my mama, lovingly, longingly, loyally.

This evening not being the “that” of those before.

More Than Pretty Words

bravery, confidence, courage, Faith, family, freedom, grace, mercy, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Salvation, surrender, testimony, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, writing

It occurred to me as I thought of today’s prompt, “trust”, that so many of the words we use may be less powerful, more pretty, even cliche.

Trust is a word I write every morning, some days God follows with a bold period and often underlined.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Trust.

I start the day with this written commitment. Still, some days it’s nothing more than a pleasant hope, a halfhearted decision to remember God is my Father and I am His child.

I can trust Him.

Even if trusting humanly is a challenge for me, an established avoidance or cynical pattern.

I can decide to trust God.

Words like trust, faith, redemption, and salvation are powerful and unchanging words.

They are the fruit of our Creator’s character and intent for us.

They are God’s covenant.

“Promise”, another word we hold loosely when we consider it from human experience, is just as valuable, a weighty word.

Today, I will trust God. I will know and cherish words like trust, faith, mercy, grace, freedom, salvation, healing, and peace.

I’ll embrace these words tightly, held and certain like a child being cradled in the strong arms of a parent.

“I am carrying you.” God

He keeps His promises.

He gives joy, trust, patience.

We’re not able on our own to sustain these.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Knowing A Little

Abuse Survivor, bravery, confidence, contentment, Faith, Peace, Redemption, rest, Stillness, surrender, waiting, wisdom
What I Know

What’s one question you have? An intrusion in your thoughts that refuses to go on its way?

How does God feel about questions?

Us knowing a little, but aching to know everything.

I wondered.

A little may be all you’re supposed to know and may just be enough.

This way of thinking came after praying. To put it into practice, I listed the things I do know. They outnumbered those I don’t.

My vision is blurry. My understanding is unfinished. My conclusions are often skewed. I’m patterned to protect myself, to anticipate bad news, to not be knocked down by surprise.

So, I like to know it all.

I’m changing though.

I know goodness and grace and that my prayers are heard.

I know enough.

Because, I’m not yet whole and well, I’m not God.

I can just know a little.

If I use what I see as the answer to a long coddled question, I’ll forever be longing for earthly evidence, confirmation and rest.

When I understand I’m only supposed to see just a glimpse, the glimpse meant for me, and I trust that God alone needs to comprehend the rest

I won’t need the whole picture.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’ll just need my view.

The view often found at the foot of the cross, the floor beside my bed.

All That’s Needed

Art, bravery, Children, contentment, courage, curiousity, daughters, Faith, family, grandchildren, hope, painting, Peace, sons, surrender, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I have everything I need. (Psalm 23)

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.

Fully grown.

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.

Of love.

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