Grief and Stories


If you asked me the favorite story of my daddy, it wouldn’t be the times I rested my head on his lap as he drove us all home from my grandma’s in the dark night, on a dark empty highway. 

It would be the one my aunt tells.  Weak and frail, he’d visit her, my mama’s only sister. 

Her telling of the way he was then would light up her face, she beams with the comfort of their time together. 

He’d visit her, pull up in his little truck for as long as he was able to drive. 

He’d talk long and longingly with her about the wrongs he’d done, the longing he had to undo some days and do it all untouched by mistake and struggle. 

Mostly, he made known his love.

 It was his daily task, a calling. 

Yesterday, I had a chance to think of my daddy, how he beat cancer; but, a tiny germ took root in his feeble lungs and it just grew fertilized by the lack of immune system. 

And the doctors took forever trying to figure it out, what on earth is this tiny bacteria that is ravaging him?

They discovered a rare thing, it had come from the dirt. We were all confounded, defeated and distraught over deciding to let him go.

And I thought, dirt somehow got in there, maybe he’d walked towards my house, drove with windows down through the lane cutting through the cornfields, dirt, the earth had infected his lungs. 

Oh, the tragic irony! 

But, time and grace came and over time 

Changed my reading of the story. 

Became a fitting comfort because of the annual garden, the potatoes we dug up, my children dressed in overalls, their hineys resting at the end of a row, my daughter clutching her baby brother. 

I have a picture of the scene, my daddy’s feet planted in the cool autumn dirt, my babies in the foreground. 

I know some people now with news of illness and some, I know in places marked by faithful  and powerful prayer and responses from God less than hopeful. 

And God has placed on my path someone whose father has cancer. She can’t visit now, his immune system not allowing.

 I listened and remembered and I did my best, although, not surely enough to comfort. 

When words aren’t there, or the listener not strong enough to hear them,  listening is a comfort. 

And is enough, more than sometimes. 

Because I understand, almost twenty years later, I understand and I think we get all out of sorts when we see another facing diagnosis or bleak prognosis. 

We look for right words or we avoid, afraid to let our recall of fear be reflected on our faces. 

When comfort, I believe, is no more than simply saying I have been where you are and here I am now. 

To comfort another is to open our book on grief and share the story the reader might be longing to hear. 

One of a similar tragic time and one or two or so many more of the stories time used to refine them 

And us. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭ESV

Let Be

You can’t see it probably, 

a shadowy place there amongst the growth. 

This statue-like border up the edge of the pool fence, it started with one branch, like an arm reaching up to warm sky. 

I ranted two summers straight.

“Please trim that ridiculous hedge!” 

All I could think is one day I’d come home and the shrubbery out front would be trimmed into shapes of rooster tails or some design alternating loops and curves, 

Edward Scissorhand-ish and such. 

He loved the randomness of the way it decided to grow up the fence. 

I was annoyed by the intentional way we now on purpose had a bush growing uncontrolled up the fence. 

I decided, no use. 

Let it be. 

Like the sheets all crinkled and untucked or the rag thrown on the counter, not folded over sink 

or the one sip milk jug back in the fridge or…

Summer almost here again and the towering shrub has far exceeded the height of fence top. 

But, I’ve grown to love it.

And the hollowed out place, the opening to the innards is now the place where the mama goes in, a mockingbird careening towards its nest as I watch through my morning kitchen window. 

I walked out with the dogs and turned just now in the mist of rain and thought how beautiful it is to let things be. 

Growing freely, differently, more strong and for reasons yet to be seen. 

To be “let be”

and it just occurred to me this is a post about marriage. 

Rare and different feeling

Oddly nice, this change, this growth in us, in me, the letting be and letting love. 

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭ESV


Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee. I hope you’ll take a minute to read her most beautiful prayer here: http://jenniferdukeslee.com/will-pray-prayer/

In the Morning

Imagine the day that begins with a prayer, rising and settling into the truth coming out in the quiet of ticking kitchen wall clock space. 


Remembering the tossing of the night and the triumph of a dream that started as memory and ended as battle won. 

Could it be the “ohhmms” that made me victor, not defeated one this time? 

Sunday, yoga with smiles and peace and challenges extended, unleashed. 

Or maybe it was the getting back to the big thing I’d set aside. Just a peek.

I read two pieces, intended to be separate; yesterday I saw that they are one and I realized the answer to the question offered heavenly, 

“Lord, show me what you’d have me do with this idea of me a writer of a book.”

I lingered all evening in the realness of His reply. 

Then dreamt of fighting my old demons and winning, fighting back with determination. 

After the loosening of the groggy like heavy wool coat, I’ve  finally discarded,

I write a prayer to my Heavenly Father.

“Heavenly Father, make me stronger than the things that hold me back, weigh me down, break my spirit.” 

Because of mercy, 

Amen. 

Monday morning begins with the will to be the me He sees again, rediscovered motivation and quiet fervor feeling like fresh anticipation. 

A prayer of Moses, the one God called although he’d declared he could not speak,

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭90:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Grace Awaits

Today, I’ve decided to look for the grace. 

3 verses down from the verse I call “life”, the one that I first claimed as my daddy’s verse and then decided it could be mine too, is a verse that reminds me of how God is always gracious. He waits to be gracious. He longs to be gracious. He’s about to be gracious, we should anticipate the grace we don’t see coming that he’s about to give! 
In between are words that talk about “fleeing” on horses, maybe rushing ahead or going off on paths other than what are best…Isaiah is talking about a “rebellious” people. 
I thought, maybe not waiting quietly and trusting with a repentant heart is rebellion too. 
This whole waiting and trusting thing is hard. We want what we want and have no middle place…either rush ahead haphazard or throw up our hands and drop our heads in pity. 
Trust and Wait. Trust and Obey. 
I wrote a monthly column about the gentle and kind Savior and I’m still blown away by the reality of his open arms, holding me, keeping me, calling me back and loving me with new invitations to follow Him every day.
Today, look for grace, little and big. 
Grace awaits, I have proof. 

I had a moment just now wishing for something to be as before, hoping to have turned back time. Deciding, these days now are just as good as those were.

Then, I turn a corner and just like that I’m unexpectedly met by the smile, the smile the same just older, wiser and more independent. 

Truth and Vision

I can’t decide if my glasses are old or my vision is changing or maybe my morning eyes find it harder to focus. 


I wake with prayer and I carry that prayer with me to the place I open my words. 

I fling the glasses to the side because I’ve crinkled up the corners of my cheeks up towards my lashes and I realize I’m better without the lens. 

I wonder if there’s misconception in my thoughts I think to pray, if I’m seeing clearly what might possibly be ahead. 

I’m in a time of not quite sure what’s my part anymore in this thing I called my treasure. I believe if I’m honest I’ve let my vision become blurred by other objects. 

I’m beginning to tell myself the truth, like a failed diet…if I keep it secret will anyone know? 

Maybe not. 

But, I do and better to have good intentions than discarding all intentions and effort. 

Without fail I find truth every morning. 

I’m not supposed to know it all, see it all. 

I’m just called to keep looking and focused and certain what I’m seeking is through the lens of my Lord. 

“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

Begin again. Press on, things will become more clear. 

One Day in the Sand

We travelled that day, old smoking car when I slowed to idle.

A cloud behind us all the way. 

We made it to the coast.


Had sandwiches and sat on towels, not chairs. 

Impromptu declaration of goodness and grace, my mama goal set to carry out as single priority. 

A day trip, beach, frolicking and them napping as I drove back towards old house on the hill at sunset. 

They called me mommy then. 

Years passed and I became “Mama”. Sometimes, Mama!!!! others, Mma…ma….?!

Getting my attention or pleadingly elongated hoping to see my giving in. 

But, never “Mom”. 

I used to think Mom must be reserved for the cool mothers or the ones who turn the heads of everyone, never looking overwhelmed or exhausted or about to fall apart from life and mothering and the significant in betweens. 
Now, occasionally I respond to “Lisa” and it bothers me not in the least that others question my acceptance of being called by my name. 

I love it actually, prettiest sound of all, to hear my name called by the ones I named. 

Happy Mother’s Day Moms, mamas, mommies and all the other names in between!

The names from the mouths of our babes. 

I’m writing prompted by Five Minute Friday. Read other “Mom” stories here: 

Five Minute Friday

Oh and if you’d like to read other stories about being a Mother, purchase the Motherhood Anthology called “I Heart Mom”. 

My chapter called “Leaving Loved”  tells the story of coming to terms with truths told by my children. 

What an opportunity from God to share my redemption story! 

I Heart Mom

Motherly (s)

Wisdom lingers like blood through my veins, pools of restful reasoning.

My waiting, my trusting, my pulling back rather than pushing for quick resolve.

Less control, more confidence.

My reactions, my bravery, my lack of filtering dislike over phony or for show.

Honest expression of observation, less impressing, more insight.

The wisdom of my mama occupies my frame.

wedding 053

She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

There are others too, I’ll call them my “motherlys”. The ones who turn me back to me or towards the good or better they see in me.

My daughter, straight shooter and spot on is quick to lift me up or bring me back down to the place of just enough me rather than “too much Lisa”.

I consider her gauge, I consider her critique as she considers my being of me and we are quite good with the compromise.  A beautiful bride, overjoyed to be wed.

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  

Proverbs 31:10-11

One believing the other wise.

wedding 184

 

Wisdom of mothers and daughters, an exchange I’d not expected so pleasantly friendlike.

Then there’s my aunt, my mama’s only sibling.

“Prayer and patience, Lisa…prayer and patience.” Aunt Boo, we call her.

She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing.

Proverbs 31:24

wedding 073

A newfound motherly, my “Peacock”cousin, told me yesterday as we talked of answered prayers, that she understands me.

Understands the seeking of attention that had long been sought, yet rarely given. Told me it’s hard to know the play between seeking praise and embracing, celebrating a gift.

She corrected me when I told her I’m working hard not to seek the spotlight, I’m working hard on not seeking the glory, working hard to not expect to be noticed.

She opens her mouth with wisdom.

Proverbs 31:26

She said,  “Lisa, it’s acceptance of being affirmed by God. He is affirming your gift, don’t deny his affirmation.”

And I said an audible,”Ahh.” because I’d never considered that hiding away, of not stepping into the light God arranged to illuminate my gift from Him was something bad or invaluable.

I confuse humility with hiding, praise with pride.

When something God made come true, not something I forced, finagled, pushed my way to and through, begging to be noticed.

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works be praised at the gates.

Proverbs 31:31

So, on this day moving closer towards my motherless day, I’m sharing an excerpt from the chapter in this book called “I Heart Mom”.

17917442_10155057934141203_270021845428850011_o

My chapter, titled “Leaving Loved” was God-planted, cultivated and harvested into print almost smack dab in the middle of this Anthology of stories. There are stories for moms across the ages and stages. I encourage you to purchase a copy and I am thanking God, yet again for his glorious affirmation of my love of putting words together to form stories of good.

   I wore red that day, attempting to inspire myself. My mama wore red. She wore it well. She got stronger one day, and from then on, she was confident and known in her management circles. So, I wore red on that day, anxious to appear in control, assertive and take charge. I met with people, several that day. One, rather outspoken and sure of herself in a way making me, twenty years her senior, feel uncertain. She avoided my eyes, kept glancing towards my neckline. At first, I thought, this necklace is cool, trendy, I guess she wonders maybe where I got it. But, her fixation continued, becoming a question. I figured it out, I decided, “It’s my turkey neck, lines like tissue paper crumbled up then folded back to be used again, the lines in my neck, that’s what she’s obsessing. Later, with many encounters between, I stood in my bathroom and there it was, all day long I’d worn my sweater backward, the stitching of the tag, a rectangle at the base of my neck, the little hollow place. Surely, someone thought to tell me; but, decided against, not wanting to ruin my day. Still, I wondered why friends let me carry on all day, afraid to reveal the truth. Something not nearly as earth shatteringly true as truth kept quiet for years, revelations hard to hear, the ones my children finally revealed; the things nobody along the way had been brave enough to say…

I thought of being a mother last night, as I do in some way or another every day, praying they sense God near, hoping they remember my “don’t forget I love you notes.” My son had gone back to college from Christmas break, and I’d forgotten somehow, so I thought for a second, I wonder what he’s doing at the house. My daughter, a newlywed at home with husband, I thought of texting her; but, didn’t’, I’ll wait ‘til tomorrow.  I’m almost certain that if you asked someone who knows me they’d say it was good, the way I raised them up, the way they knew my love. I’d like to know if there’d been one attentive observer who thought about telling me the truth I know now. Being the parent of grown up children is laborious and good, its redemption in my self-examination, in their courage to confront my mistakes and manipulative behaviors from a distance. It’s a circling back around, learning lessons from them, their decisions and words, finally speaking hard things they’d never been bold enough to say before.  So, if you asked that circle of friends, family or from a distant, maybe social media observer if I’d been a pushy mama, a controlling mama or a mama who sought glory through her son, her daughter; they’d maybe say, “No way” or “Not, Lisa.” The answer comes gradually, a harsh reality when your children get just far enough away to tell you so, far enough from the fear of their mama’s reaction. Brave enough to know the value of honest expression despite causing their mama’s shoulders to drop and her eyes turning away as they become warm with tears. Neither of them would hurt their mama; our journey had been rocky, single mama for a bit, just us three. My daughter, my son, their mama’s vulnerable heart and driven desires. They became children who pleased me…

I see it know, thank you for showing me easy, my daughter, my son. In my arranging your futures, in what I thought was right, was love, I could have worn you out. I now see it made you strong, strong enough to let me know, courageous enough to move past it all to become who you are.

To read the rest of the story about my children and Jacob and Esau, of letting God lead and allowing them to leave me loved, purchase the book on Amazon here:

https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Mom-together-strongest-motherhood/dp/099822118X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494441621&sr=1-1&keywords=I+Heart+Mom

It’s filled with stories of other moms navigating life, love, and leaving.

11079994_853878281314103_4436134241717833059_o

Of babies and boys and girls, softly lined cradles and newly emptied nests.

I am thanking God daily for opportunity.

For reminding me not to give up…to take steps towards doors he decides to open or not.

I’m learning to be affirmed by God, that it’s okay to be happy in good things my way.

I’m linking up  with Jennifer Dukes Lee and the story of the “15 Things”.

http://jenniferdukeslee.com/mothers-day-15-things-want-daughters-know/

dbdc4aff-5690-4e57-94e4-7badc916de74-319-0000001872923f25

 

 

 

Too Deep for Words

I can tell you there’s nothing better than having strong arms holding you tight

for longer than a consoling or obligatory hug, for as long as the one being held holds on. 

Until they have emptied themselves of what’s been brimming, aching, 

on the verge of

tears.

I worried about her.  Left our shelter to be on her own and then as we decided today “things got hard…illness, upheaval…all hell broke loose and hard stuff happened”. 

My imagination went wild and tragic. 

She was not home, would not answer. 

I finished a meeting early and decided to try again, she may be home

or the car might have moved and come back. 

The apartment complex entry, scattered with  porch sitters and juveniles turning to notice my car. 

I had taken her to church with me, I’d confronted her struggles and we’d found our way back to good. 
We’d talked about Jesus together. 

I get the chance to come to know women at a loss for winning

ever again. 

You can’t imagine the climb from hopeless to possible. 

Nor the fear of trying to be good and safe and alone with no one to depend upon but you. 

So, when I hugged her goodbye and she cried, fragile arms shaking and shoulder blades a’quiver. 

I held her and she cried. 

For a long time. 

And she asked me to pray for her and I thought fleetingly 

I’ll pray now, out loud and pleading. 

But, it seemed self-serving and held tighter instead, my hands on her back, her face against my chest. 

I’d been calling. I’d decided I’d be met by tragedy if ever I might find her again. 

Her phone stopped working, she explained. 

So, on my kitchen counter now lies an old yet new one I’d found at bottom of my pocketbook, the downgraded discarded upon upgrade I said. 

“I have a phone, you can have it. 

Things will be better. 

Pray. One day, one obstacle at a time. ”

“I’ll be stronger for it.” She said. 

“I can’t imagine you any stronger.” I answered.

“I feel better.” she added and I told her if she could, read Romans 8, because I did this morning and I believe I will again. 

And maybe again. 

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:25-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Angels, Art and Otherwise

A writer who wrote a book about hope and places and people along the way who reinforced or taught us to be hopeful, “Hope Markers”  https://www.joangallaghernowo.com/ asked if I’d consider writing a guest post. 

Joan Gallagher is one of the answers to my Jabez prayer, that God would enlarge my territory. 

She has a website called “Women Mentoring Women” and honestly this name makes so much sense based on my encounters with her. 

She’s never given me anything but hope. 

She doesn’t even know me. 

So, I thought of mentors and being a tad bit independent in the way I process advice, I had to acknowledge that maybe I’m not so great a “mentee”.

But, I thought of a gracious woman who gave me the chance to love her, to honor and complement her life changing story.

I thought of her grace towards me and others and I remembered and wrote of a life changing time in her life that she will not allow to be forgotten. 

So, I thought yes, it’s Judy. She’s my hope marker, my pointer out of all the graces I’ve been shown. 

Thank you, Joan for the chance to write. 

I hope you’ll read and think of grace, God’s unending towards us and his opportunities to allow our graces given by others to never go unnoticed. 

I hope you’ll honor my beautiful friend, Judy Jones, by reading and sharing her story; but, mostly being changed as was I by her example of grace. 

Angels and a Teacher of Grace

Mother’s Day – Alphabetized

Mother’s Day every day.

Quiet Confidence

10321199_10152363781271203_2747384672413908412_o

Yay, for finding this! I know Mother’s Day is next weekend; but, I have been thinking about this post all week. This is from three years ago and my blog was sort of not so well-organized, the fonts nor layout…the content always so great!

But, I have grown. The two of you have grown. We have grown together with God’s grace and prayer and still random “Don’t forget I love you’s” and even more “thank you God prayers from me” because he gave the two of you to me. ❤️

Last week, I sat in a meeting pretending to be compelled by the speaker. If I told you the topic, you’d agree that there was no real reason for me to listen. I promise, I was not rude, just disinterested. You would have been too.

So, I began to think about Mother’s Day.

Last year I did something new at…

View original post 578 more words