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.
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.
“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.)
“Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.” Jeremiah 33:6 KJV
I’m guilty of using words repeatedly, words like “season” I keep hearing, lyrical sort of as they dance with others.
I like the word peace. I cherish it, settle my mind on its importance for me, more so for those I love, those I meet.
Others I’m using are resonate, redeem, and appreciate.
I pause mid sentence to use my mental thesaurus, but these words seem to be mine in this season. I see no need for substitutes.
I’ve just read the writing prompt for Five Minute Friday by Kate Moutang, the word “twenty”. She shared a sweet story of her memories of world travel, a trip she thought was one of “giving”
That turned out to be a season of sweet gifts and lessons she treasures.
I have a little quirk.
I like things in threes.
Three plants lined up on a shelf, a turtle and a rabbit anchored by a little sign saying “peace”. I love the way three seems complete, like the knot tied in a string and the meeting place in a circle of hand holders,
a ring around the rosy kind of innocent peace.
This morning, actually for a month or more, I’ve been thinking about my 60’s as my 62nd draws near. I’ve been the listener in little coffee shop chats between women, comparing which was harder,
Turning 30, 40, 50, or 60?
The marking of a new decade. I’m wondering about the years in between. The years that take a back seat to the big surprise gathering, black balloons, not so funny jokes, but sweet celebrations with family and friends cheering, look how far you’ve made it!
Thinking of “20”, I’ve mentally divided my 60 plus years by three. I’m time traveling back to 20 year old me, 40 and 60.
The seasons and seasoning of me by hardship, grief, achievements, peace, panic, fear, and many wow, we made it, they did it, so very proud moments!
Wiser now, quicker to see my need for humility, more safe with my true self.
Imperfect and not defeated by the imperfection of me.
So what if I look back I wonder at Lisa at 23, 33, 43, 53?
Were those birthdays less monumental?
I can’t remember really, just know they led to the almost 62 me and I’m grateful for every lesson, every gift I never believed 20 year old Lisa would see.
All of them, every single second leading to the truth of me.
“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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
I’ve been thinking about this photo all day. My college roommate and friend from the early 80’s sent this with a note, “found this today”. I was eating lunch with my granddaughter. We were talking about yummy bread and tomatoes.
I see I loved bracelets even back then and I remember how much she loved her VW. She was pink, khaki and green preppy. I see I must’ve been a little artsy. I notice the perm. I see my resemblance to both my mama and my sister, my daughter and son.
I see the tiny waist. I remember how little I ate, how much I ran twice a day.
I think of us, separately and together, how we both struggled, grew distant; but, she bravely began our new conversation.
I see me so tiny and remember I had such hatred for myself. I see her so bubbly and know only a tiny bit of not so bubbly days.
I see women now in their 60’s who know healing comes from forgiveness and more than forgiving others, it’s about forgiving ourselves.
So, skinny me no longer, maybe it’s time to stop rushing past the mirror and stand still for just a bit to consider, look where time, loss, grief, babies, defeat, trying again, fear met by bravery that said “continue” has brought you here…
Grace thus far has been the grace you’ve decided you can finally give yourself.
I never thought a thrown away art scholarship because of uninvited trauma (I still don’t like the “R” word) and eating disorder would have been so mercifully generous to say it’s not too late, paint.
You’re an artist.
I never thought a friend I haven’t seen since 1980 or so would keep a photo marking our bond.
Believe it, redemption is never ending and there’s nothing our loving God can’t make new.
Today, I met an artist in her home. She grew up in the landscapes of my favorite artist, Andrew Wyeth. She lives alone. Her husband is not well.
She invited me in.
Old me wouldn’t have.
But, tea time was at 3:00 and so, she, my granddaughter and I had tea and cream cheese pound cake.
And an almost three year old sat between two artists, two women who might’ve given up on themselves, but we’re not…and never ever on our art.
The morning is grey with a veil of warmth shielding the pines across the way.
My grey cat is missing, meanwhile a pretty black one with a flash of white on its chest is slowly deciding I’m friendly.
But, I’m hoping for mine, the kitten I named “Georgia”.
I am waiting for the amaryllis forgotten and found to be vibrant again.
I’m waiting with sweetly surprised expectation, the Christmas of 2020 bulb potted and forgotten is now fat with rebirth.
Pray, trust, wait.
Despite the warning of afternoon tumultuous thunder, the choir of birds are singing a sort of suggestion just for now,
Lisa, this is heavenly.
So, I listen.
I’ll return to my place of painting and wait for my visitor, a mourning dove who danced for me yesterday.
Softly, it stayed longer than I’d have expected.
Strong in its message to me, a message of peace is what I took it to be because of its color, a blue grey white blend, acrylic mixture for the sky I may paint.
Hoping my landscape says “peace”.
Because of its visit, the surprise of its lingering
Then the cardinal, brick-colored breast, careening alongside longer than usual and I noticed God,
“Mama.” I thought and “it is well”.
Keep trusting. Keep waiting.
The Book of Luke, Chapter 13 suggests the same.
A parable about a fig tree about to be uprooted, tossed away because of its fruitless condition and then the one about the mustard seed. Luke shared the story Jesus used to help us understand that growth that starts small can become immeasurably large by trust and faith.
Persistence, a peaceful persistence.
Two trees, a barren fig tree and one that grew so beautifully that birds built nests and started families there.
“He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19 ESV
The kingdom of God is here. It is us, all of us seeds of its faithful and kind growth.
A woman bent over for eighteen years because of “disability of spirit”, Luke shared her encounter with Jesus in the middle of the two parables.
I love the placement, it makes faith even more a promised instrument for change.
Jesus, the bringer of change broke the rules and healed this woman on the Sabbath.
“When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” Luke 13:12 ESV
I’m fascinated by this healing.
Eighteen years of her life, this broken spirited woman walked bent by her load, face to the ground.
She was healed immediately and glorified God, according to scripture.
I wonder how.
Was she a seamstress?
Maybe a writer, maybe a helper of others, maybe she was simply a teller of her story.
I’d love to know if she worked with her hands, strangely, I believe so.
I guess because of the resonance for me of her healing.
She’s relatable. I want to believe she’s like me and I, like her.
Yesterday, I edited a painting I felt was contrived. Calm came as I changed what was finished, but after all, not.
“Spring” became “Birdsong”.
Like a seed of faith, a barren tree, a discarded and forgotten amaryllis bulb, and a woman disabled by a spirit that told her she was unable for eighteen years
We can grow, there’s planting, reviving, unearthing and thriving in every single soul.
Pray, trust, wait.
Participate in God’s healing.
“As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.” Luke 13:17 ESV
Over several weeks, I sat at the desk in my art room and pieced together a broken bowl. It had fallen to the counter as I put dishes away at my daughter’s home, a loud crash and pieces and chunks of pretty white with raised polka dots was destroyed.
Instantly, I thought “Here’s your chance, try kintsugi.” (the ancient art of repairing broken pottery with gold)
I laid out the pieces, gathered gorilla glue and thick gold paint and began. It couldn’t be rushed.
It was a thing of patience and phases, requiring me to allow the repair of one section before beginning the next.
Covered in a cloth in case my daughter stopped by, I continued imperfectly because of missing pieces, adding blue from a broken intentionally cup for fill ins and well, just because it was pretty.
Finished, it became a gift to her for Valentine’s Day.
Last week, I heard words that were not new,
“We live in a broken world.”
The pastor added with emphasis in his message on “expectations” and I received the familiar phrase differently.
It was time.
Have you considered yourself broken by life? Maybe you do now. I began to think of other catchy phrases like “broken and beautiful or beautifully broken” and pondered how we can be both.
I sat in the sanctuary between my strong son-in-law and a very large, burly man who sang every word to every song and sighed like a little boy at the passages about God’s love, no condemnation anymore and other promises because of God’s spirit in us.
I thought, “I’m not broken, after all, all along it’s been this world and what it caused others to do to me.”
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 ESV
Journaled on Monday:
This world is broken and so, things that happen or happened may determine you to be broken. But remember, you are whole, made whole fully and even more whole and unbroken as you allow yourself to understand the difference. You are not broken. The world still is; but no, you are not broken, not you. Not broken made beautiful as much as simply beautiful, redemptively beautiful, completely so.
To say I’m in need of my Heavenly Father, my Savior, His Spirit in me is not saying I’m broken, it’s more of a humble recognition of my identity now, in light of then.
God caused me to consider self-condemnation in my sleep last night. I’d been thinking of the practice of Lent and intentional changes. God had a better idea, told me what I really needed to let go of is self-condemnation.
The thought danced in my mind all night and I woke to consider it and journaled.
Self-condemnation turns me inward, causes me to fixate on my failures. Self-condemnation is not a healthy or even godly self-assessment. Instead, it’s an obsession with myself in a way that’s tricky, makes you think it’s a companion to humility.
Humility acknowledges with reverence the repaired places you were broken, made new, places you were unable and now have courageous abilities. Humility shines a soft light on the places you were weakened by wrong, but now are allowing yourself to grow strong.
Humility says “thank you”. Self-condemnation says you’ll always be “too far gone”.
I gifted the bowl and later sent my daughter a note I’d saved in “Notes”.
Kintsugi is the ancient art of fixing broken pottery with gold. … Kintsugi reminds us that something can break and yet still be beautiful, and that, once repaired, it is stronger at the broken places. This is an incredible metaphor for healing and recovery from adversity
Strange gifts from me don’t surprise my children and they know the unspoken truth of most of my gifts being gifts with a deeper meaning. No need for spoken explanations, just hope for little contributions to my legacy of love always.
And hope that I see this bowl, others who pass by or stand in her kitchen pause and maybe take a deep breath and rest assured.
We’re not broken anymore. We are beautiful and slightly imperfect, yet made new.
“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9 ESV
Here’s a real life story about anxiety for so many who don’t “get it” and a revelation that that’s okay because “you understand me, God. You understand me.” (Passion Music, “Bigger Than I Thought You Were”.)
Early morning darkness only illuminated the garage and I wondered what made the motion that led to the light. An animal, a person, a man?
I tapped the wrong button and I locked the truck three times before I heard the open click. My husband’s prized truck, my transportation for the day. Hoisted myself up to the seat and saw the light flashing “oil change needed” which reminded me to take off the brake.
Couldn’t find the pedal on the floorboard and instead found the lever to “pop” the hood, then turned to jump from the truck and felt my left side move with a tease of vertigo.
Carefully, quietly as I could, I opened and then closed the hood. Then, I sat in the driver’s seat wondering where the brake release was located. Switched on every light and guessed on the one beneath the steering wheel. Success!
I left the driveway for the empty road and determined myself to not be angry, stressed or feel stupid.
But, the highway was busy, cars and trucks headed to industry or interstate flashed their brightly lit eyes at me in a hovering and then sweeping by me stare.
The windshield had fogged, continued to fog as I found defrost and then, panic again and a weight on my chest as I couldn’t figure out the wipers.
But, I continued. I drove on.
I took my deep faith in fear out breaths and it got better, the panic in my chest, the anxiety locking up my breath.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy. Psalm 94: 19
I thought to tell my daughter, but didn’t. No need to have her busy morning challenged by the perplexity of her mama.
Rehearsed telling my husband later, but decided no use.
He doesn’t understand anxiety, hates it for me, but doesn’t understand it really.
The windshield cleared, I had the country road to myself, quiet because the radio was another challenge, and I got there in plenty of time to see a toddler already smiling on her mama’s bed.
Peace was there.
“It’s foggy, but so beautiful this morning.” I told my daughter.
Peace of all is and was okay.
Will be always.
Peace was with me all day yesterday and will be today.
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalms 23:4 NLT