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?”
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
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’mfaltering. I doubt the promises of Godquite 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.
After a very long time, I pulled the stubby stems from the dirt. The four times or more repotted “lipstick plant” was not thriving.
The plant sent by my fellow choir members at the time of my mother’s death. Inside, then outside, repotted and revived, try and tried again until it was decidedly time to let it go.
The forest like ferns in the window box were just there, not thriving either. My master gardener cousin suggested them and I liked that she called them “Fall ferns.” To me they looked like a walk in the woods, a reminder of creeks and pine trees.
My husband’s recent hospitalization (he’s greatly improved) reminded me not then, but yesterday, I’m good at operating on auto-pilot.
I’m skilled at begin subtly hyper-vigilant, of draping myself in sort of an emotional bubble wrap.
And praying throughout it all, praying believing in the power of prayer and the nearness of God,
Until I’m not.
Until I remember, “this feels like that”.
While I believe in my healing because of my faith in Jesus, the physicality of past trauma and memories are remnants and threads in my tapestry. I’d love to believe I’ll one day not be affected, but I’m more hopeful in knowing my hopefulness in this regard is real progress.
Is peace, is going forward in peace.
Still, conversations about options for life, long days hoping for turnarounds, ICU waiting rooms with siblings taking turns to visit and calls with the announcement “gone” are realities I have experienced.
No wonder it all came back to knock me off my feet when I quit trudging forward in a fog, when I finally slowed down.
Grief catches up. Trauma is skillful in its tactics.
It’s best that we not avoid it, rather go down the road again and again to the place where the view is more clear, better, an invitation to known peace and comfort.
Allowing the intellectual revelation that my life has been affected by trauma and loss, I have an understanding of the fallout rather than falling apart because of it.
I am in tune with myself.
I can grieve what happened back then in a way that brings a tender resurgence of sadness, but not one that destroys me.
Because I know Jesus told many “to go in peace because you’re now well, you are healed”, but the brain often rebels.
I’m not a clinician.
I believe understanding leads to disciplined healing and I don’t think remembering our hard things is always detrimental. I believe it leads to both understanding and to gratitude for who we are now
Despite what happened then.
Remember my mama’s broken pot with the miraculously spreading succulents from her funeral?
Well, they withered like an old flattened tire. The December frost took them. I brought the pot inside, too late, maybe.
I ran my fingers across the soil and tried to help the plants perk up.
Just one tiny plant like a miniature palm is standing. I’ll wait before adding more. I’ll hope more will rejuvenate on their own, find the nourishment to keep on.
The window box ferns are limelight green in the terra cotta pot. They’re happier on the porch in new soil. They must love the chance to grow in the place where death was accepted to invite new flowering.
Life continues. Life reminds.
New days bring new acceptances of our responses that hinder our acceptance of hardship or hope and invite us to know which are best.
To be brave enough to know ourselves and even braver to invite a new perspective.
Or not so new, just remembered.
Redeeming our days, because we’ve been redeemed.
Knowing ourselves in light of knowing the God who knows even more deeply and says I’m with you here, I was with you there.
Go in peace, daughter.
Go in peace.
Be gentle with yourself. Keep growing.
“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12 ESV
“And if anyone doesn’t listen to you and rejects your message, when you leave that house or town, shake the dust off your feet.” Matthew 10:14 TPT
I can hear it clearly. My mama would say “Turn the page.” and if necessary, repeated just those words.
Move one, let go, carry on kind of thinking, no need to linger here thinking of the wrong.
I’ve learned to pay attention to waking thoughts. After filtering the crazy dreams (last night my mama was napping while someone else cooked supper, pork chops) I wait to see what resolution of yesterday’s woe comes to the surface.
A question came today, “Am I difficult to work with or were they?” An honest assessment of my part and another’s led me to realize, I’d done my part and they hadn’t. I could see this issue, unmet expectations in many areas of my life.
I’m not great at advocating for myself. It’s a learned behavior. I’m even less good at moving on past doors that didn’t welcome me.
I am learning this stems from unmet childhood needs and it’s a tough thing to identify, am I needy or are they not meeting my needs?
It’s a trauma wound and a trigger, a very good thing to know how it affects you and whether your appraisals of others are accurate or if you’re needing longed for acceptance.
“You’re very good at understandingyour flaws.” someone told me.
Yes, I’ve gotten better and it has led to growth and wholeness. It has led to this truth and even more seeking:
“God will continue to bring people, circumstances, behaviors of others into your life until you consistently know the approval, acceptance, and applause of others will never compare to His love. Notice of others will never be enough, won’t last long, and often will disappoint. People who court you can’t always be trusted. People who promise may forget they promised and people will forget they knew you or might not open their door.”
Turn the page. Walk away. Walk towards God’s call.
Jesus told his disciples to shake the dust from their feet, head to a new city, away from those who didn’t receive them or their message.
You will not be accepted by everyone.
Be smart. Be astute observers. But, be gentle. It may be scary to “put yourself out there”. You’ll feel vulnerable, being vulnerable is a sign of authentic faith. Doing things you can’t see clearly resulting in acceptance or rejection.
Be remembered as kind and gentle; but, exercise the accuracy and wisdom God gave you.
If you’re rejected, continue on another way. But, don’t give up. (my takeaways)
“Now, remember, it is I who sends you out, even though you feel vulnerable as lambs going into a pack of wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes yet as harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16 TPT
I write about what God brings me in my own process of healing from past trauma.
I write reluctantly often.
A voice on one side saying no one wants to hear that and another saying your honesty about your continued healing and clarity about your triggers and negative patterns may help someone else.
I write because I’m simply continuing as I believe in redemption through Jesus, a prettier story of hope and wisdom comes every single merciful morning.
I hope so for you too. Shake the dust of yesterday’s defeats off your shoulders and carry on.
Carry on today.
“He will guard and guide me, never letting me stumble or fall. God is my keeper; he will never forget nor ignore me.” Psalms 121:3 TPT