On Right Paths

Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, memoir, Redemption, rest, waiting, walking

More thoughts and art because of the 23rd Psalm…

I woke with the thought, “Yet, not I, but Christ in me.” and began searching for the scripture. This is typical, it’s either a song or verse. This time a song by CityAlight. My friend texted me early another song by them. So my day started with the gift of worship.

I’ve been resting, revisiting and relishing Psalm 23 for going on three years. I could live and be led by the six verses.

Last week, as it often happens, I read verse 3 with a new clarity. I’ve been thinking/saying “God kept me for this time.” as an acknowledgment of the gift of being an artist and sharer of words.

Like most people, I can get tripped up on my own steps and I pray, less Lisa, more Jesus and little phrases like God, not glory. I gotta keep my steps in step.

Because when David wrote about restoration, he also praised the Lord for guidance and he remembered the most important truth:

This path of restoration and righteousness I am walking is for the making known the Lord’s name, not his, not mine, not yours.

Today has been the first day this week I’ve been able not to rush from my Bible to my to do list. Now, when I rise to do some things, prepare myself for obligations and the weekend, I rise lighter. I rise with a lifted spirit and a steadiness in my heart and steps.

Sermon to self, stay on this path.

September Hope

confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, hope, patience, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Trust, waiting, wonder
Hold On

Mid-September mornings are striated light on the thick green floor. The mysterious vine spills over, bent branches scattered with once purple blooms now fading to lavender.

The season is changing, the blooms done with their blooming and I’m torn between acceptance and longing for longer.

Does hope have a season? Will we need to wait for it to make sense again? Will I embrace the soul of hope and not pack it away like a summer dress, move it to the back of the closet, knowing it’s there and yet wondering if it makes sense?

I greeted someone this morning to ask a favor and I began with, “Good morning.” Ready to send the message, I paused and rewrote it

Adding, “I hope you’re feeling hopeful this morning.”

Hope is important to my friend and I.

Weeks ago, I typed a message more like an essay telling someone jolted by bad news that we don’t stop hoping, we don’t give up on hope.

We don’t “put off our hope”, don’t defer it like asking for more time to make good on a debt or commitment.

We don’t procrastinate hoping, I told her because that makes our hearts even more broken.

Instead, we keep hoping and we see the beautiful bloom, the tree of life.

Fulfillment.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭13:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I hope you’re feeling hopeful this morning.

“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭70:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I hope you remember all the times you’ve seen hoping bring fulfillment and I hope you will believe, believe again or simply start hoping it may just be true.

Jesus loves you.

You can hope.

Continue and believe.

Surface Things

anxiety, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, grace, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom

The older I grow, the more I know smaller things matter most of all.

A quilt your grandma made, a way of prayer that waits instead of begging and a sense of listening only age can grant you.

It’s no secret, I love words and I pay attention to their timing. I write first thought prayers every day.

Today, I thought of sorrow.

A word describing the emotion of heavy grief, loss, regret or dismay.

But, it wasn’t that way, felt softer like another favorite, “melancholy”.

I remembered a time a confident colleague challenged my assertion

“Everyone has a secret sorrow.”

He answered with, “Not me, I had no hardship or regrets at all.”

It puzzled me. I suppose it’s possible.

Not for most of us. Most of us long for different stories, past and present.

I believe it’s good to say so.

To those you love and trust or maybe a safe and objectively trained professional.

Or just a prayer.

Father, I surrender my sorrow. I will walk with my head lifted and my feet steady in your protection, your provision and the fulfilled promise of the redemption and unrelenting grace I know.

Amen

Secret or spoken sorrows become hope and healed joys when we believe it can be so.

What surfaces when you allow yourself to sit a minute in your thoughts?

Surrender what surfaces. We have a God who listens to our private prayers, whether sorrow or song.

Continue and believe.

Your needs are known.

More Stories

Abuse Survivor, bravery, confidence, courage, Faith, Forgiveness, memoir, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

Once, I found my father’s name in the Bible. An unusual name, “Ruel”, spelled Reuel in the Bible, was my daddy’s middle name. I read of this man whose daughters were saved from danger by Moses and I felt a sort of joy.

The paternal grandmother I never knew must’ve read her Bible.

My daddy had five brothers and a sister who died as a child. Daddy was the baby. The brothers’ names were simply normal.

I’m reading the Old Testament book of I Chronicles. Chapters, thus far are verses and verses of lineage, names interspersed with sister, brother, mother, father.

Until the fourth. A boy named Jabez was named because of his mother’s pain. I suppose she must’ve told him because when he got to praying age, he embraced his name’s baggage (born in pain) and he asked God to change it.

Doesn’t seem like he blamed his mama, brothers, daddy or God.

He just asked God to bless his life.

“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!”

And God granted what he asked.”
‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭4:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Not long ago, I heard something that surprised me. I heard that forgiveness relieves the torment of trauma.

This wasn’t new. I’ve made my list and I can see evidence of this truth.

But, then I heard that we’re supposed to accept that some of the wrongs done to us were intentional.

Words, fists, cruelty and all.

Crazy, I thought. The right thing to do is to see their trauma, their pain, their unrest, their unintentionally harmful behaviors as them being damaged and “doing their best”.

No, this person said. You gotta acknowledge that they were intent on harming you when they did.

Only then is forgiveness truly forgiveness.

Maybe Jabez wondered why his mama had to name him that, it’s bad enough you tell everyone how much pain I caused you.

Did you really have to make me be reminded every time my name was spoken?

I sure would like to talk to Jabez. I’d love to hear more of his story.

I’d love to know the benefits he saw of facing his handicap and asking God directly to change it. No pouting, no dwelling on old wounds, no triggers of trauma, only a life that was full because he had the courage to say.

Yes, this is bad.

God help me turn it around.

Daughter, you are healed, no longer bound to a yoke a slavery.

Words like these are for me.

Just as they were for so many who were both confronted and comforted when it was all on the table.

All the hurt, all the harm, all the hindrances to good.

All changed for better.

“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
‭‭John‬ ‭21:25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Their dilemma became their deliverance.

It’s the same with me.

I pray you as well.

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

The Calming

anxiety, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, love, memoir, patience, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Vulnerability, waiting, wonder, writing

The morning fooled me with its horizon.

Thick clouds bordered the pine tops like hills, like in the mountains.

Crescent moon to my left.

I remembered smiling, remembered the now distant idea, “Look at the moon, precious child. It’s called a crescent. It reminds me of your smile.”

The idea still near, I drive into Monday.

Radio boring, and podcast unnerving because of the cadence and tone in the guest’s voice.

Found a second episode and found the same. A conversation on attention and I couldn’t focus because of the speed of the exchange, the “chirpiness” in the voices.

Was the listening speed wrong in my app?

No, it’s me. I’m afraid I’m a bit particular about voices, quick to silence those that are pushy, perky or peppy.

Maybe it’s a southern thing.

Maybe simply timing.

“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
‭‭Esther‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Last week in the same number of days, I was told three times by a trio of different people, one a total stranger.

“You are calming.”

“Have you been on the radio? Your voice is so calming” and “Talking to you calms me.”

A friend, a former colleague who’s an executive and a young stranger.

This morning I noticed the coming day coming slowly as if the earth had decided to stay under the soft covers.

No sound now, music or podcast wisdom.

I enter Monday with full attention as I pause for the passing family of careful deer.

I feel the weight shifting as I turn, the road narrow with a picture perfect view.

I am quiet, quiet as Monday morning mostly sleeping.

I’m calm. I’m easy.

I’m hearing my voice again, patiently waiting my turn to use it.

“Prayer and patience…prayer and patience.” Aunt Boo

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.

The Broken Bowl

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, contentment, courage, Faith, freedom, happy, hope, memoir, Redemption, Stillness, testimony, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

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”.

Happy Place (detail)

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

About To Bloom

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, contentment, courage, curiousity, Faith, Holy Spirit, memoir, mercy, patience, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, testimony, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

Everything’s about to bloom except my orchid. But, I’ll not give up. The leaves are bright green cushions comforting the base of the stalks. The soil is laced with the thin fallen blooms of before. I know the morning is soon. The morning I turn towards the sun striped wall and I see the buds fat with flora.

Blooming

Prayer and patience, I think.

The tiny grocery store hyacinth I bought to think of my Grandmother will be transplanted to the front yard. Spring, not this, but the next, I’ll look out my morning window and see the green breaking soil. I’ll wait then for delicate dainty hyacinths to bless the space around my “Angel girl”.

I’ll remind myself. I will remember. I waited and it was good to be hopeful, to be patient prayerfully.

The Valentine’s Day bouquet is refilled with fresh water. A day lily amongst the pink and purple will soon open, soft tangerine.

I’ll wait, not like snapping my fingers for things. I’ll wait and keep watering what God has planted in me. This is my contribution.

I’ll look towards the orchid and I’ll see its dust colored branches stretching and curving towards the window. I’ll see it going after what it can’t live without. I’ll know what is needed for growth and I’ll keep watering, keep writing, painting, praying and I will rest quietly because quiet waiting is always best.

I’ll be willing to trust, simply planted and willing. I’ll remain rooted and I’ll not doubt the nourishment I’m given from My Father. I’ll allow it to change me from the roots to the branches to the sharing my story.

I’ll not doubt possible blooming. I know it will come and not just for me.

For others too, weakness made strong, broken made unbreakable, redeemed with a story worth sharing.

I pray it’s the same with you.

Continue and believe.

“For there is hope of a tree, If it be cut down, that it will sprout again, And that the tender branch thereof will not cease.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭14:7‬ ‭ASV‬‬

I’m linking up with others, prompted by the word “Stretch”. What an interesting prompt,

FMF link up.

The Desert Place

bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, hope, memoir, Redemption, Trust, waiting, writing

“Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
‭‭John‬ ‭11:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

She had been waiting four days.

She kept waiting. Jesus came. Her brother woke up.

Mornings Clarify

My faith has felt shallow lately in the vast place of waiting. I have zero sense of direction naturally. I depend on landmarks like trees and yellow doors on white houses and such.

I find my way by remembering. Crisis of faith is not an accurate assessment, more just a waiting in the unknown to remember.

I’m just waiting for a way forward, a clear answer, a settled decision whether to continue.

It’s not life or death. I’m seeking direction in where my writing life goes, set it on the shelf, write for personal pleasure and growth or to share with others.

I’m wondering why there are so many hoops to jump through and whether I’m up to all the jumping.

I wonder why to write a book I have to first be famous. I wonder why this type question feels taboo.

Overthinking it all? Maybe, likely to be honest.

Peace

I’m okay in the wilderness of desert waiting, just wonder how long I’ll need to linger to know.

How long uncertainty, a loss of intuition, of seeing, sensing, hearing God will evade me.

When Martha wondered what took Jesus so long to see about her brother, I imagine the waiting was heavy. I believe her senses were elevated. She listened for his arrival, she trusted her belief.

But, why didn’t he come sooner, after all Jesus loved her brother she thought.

Her sister, Mary sat at home. Martha set out to understand “why so long”.

I imagine me in the middle of not knowing, of counting on recollection to determine my direction. I’ll listen for a sense of flowing, I’ll walk towards the water rippling clearly, caressing amber stones. I’ll remember then.

This is the way to walk. I’ll remember, by faith that may not make sense to others

Sometimes to myself.

By faith, I walk.

By faith, I’ll find my footing and my steps will be certain then.

By faith, I wait.

Martha

Soon, my Savior will respond. I’ll see which way to go and understand whether the dream will die or be resurrected.

Continue and believe.

Yes, Lord; I believe…John 11:27

We wait for what we believe,

For what believes fully in us.

We find our footing, sense a certain direction and we breathe steady instead of shallow breaths.

We believe again in our hopes.

We wait as we trust.