Life and Peace

The spongy little leaves keep popping out, the ones near the soil turning darker, even falling away. I positioned my mama’s broken pot in the direction of my gaze.

When I’m in between understanding and figuring out, I look over and let the void of not always knowing cause me to stop my circling back to self-condemnation.

I don’t understand words like “righteous” fully; I just know I’m not supposed to be self-righteous.

And I don’t really feel good enough to be called pure, I’m more prone to remembering my sins.

Yesterday, I had a chance to sit with someone and talk about being “righteous”.

We talked of tainted pasts and ideas about ourselves shouted loudly from the mouths of others.

I had my Bible and she asked to hold it.

Her hands reached softly, she opened and turned the thin pages with a sweet respect and she noticed the margins, the place where I let my mind unravel, the place where it’s clear I believe.

Her hands moved sweetly over the pages, she sighed “oh” or “so beautiful”, the sketches and my scribbling.

It was a quiet time, unrushed, a beautiful exchange.

Is there need for any more than that?

Than more of moments like these, when I listen to the Spirit nudging me to do something unexpected, to sit with another and talk about my long and winding path to believing I am loved by God?

To do so without long discussion, debate or standing up high on my pedestal to say “this is how it’s done! “?

Because, if I’m honest I’m still learning to rest there myself, believing unwavered.

The little succulents in the broken pot are a miracle really. Finicky little species of plant, they’re best left untended.

Too much water, they drown. Too much shade, they wither. Too much sun, or not warmth from sun in just the right time, the thick leaves fall from the stem that is meant to nourish.

I started with two plants; now, there are five. My mama’s broken pot with birdnest and a feather, now like a shady forest.

The petals that broke away finding soil again, growing on their own amongst the others.

This morning, I went back to questioning my righteousness, unable to fathom ever calling myself pure or noble or upright.

Those labels make no sense to me, I am pondering. I am searching for understanding and I am praying.

Dear Lord,

Enlighten me.

Make things clear for me. Be near so that I will know the nearness of you and

I’ll not need to look for you in the

Measurement of me.

Amen.

Then I turned to Romans, because my read through the Bible guide directed me there, no other reason other than I tend to follow rules.

I saw the margin, recognized my hand there:

The words I’d written “life and peace” and the underlined verses that told me how and why.

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

To rely on me for my growth, for where I may be planted is futile. To be so very close to God, it’s oh, so mysteriously unfathomable at times, is really not so complex at all.

Grow where He has me, where he plants me, gives opportunity to bloom again after growing brittle or withered, weary.

To live by the Spirit is to absorb His word and to be less driven towards my part in this life lived by faith,more willing and surrendered to allow His Spirit to be my guide.

Guiding me to places like my Bible in the lap of another and a quiet conversation about why I believe in Jesus.

Not because of the scary preacher who called me “Sinner” but, because of a gentler Spirit, the Holy One.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:37-39

linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee today at Tell His Story. Read this really beautiful piece about sitting alongside others and being kind: http://jenniferdukeslee.com/best-thing-can-4th-july/

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Reason To Believe

“Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ‭‭John‬ ‭20:29‬ ‭

Something about the words of Thomas caused me to stay there. I kept my Bible open, read and paused, then read again. 

I underlined the words of Thomas saying he’d never believe. And the words of Jesus, saying “Peace be with you”.

I felt my throat tighten, rested my hand on my heart and contemplated life without believing, without His peace being with me. 

I considered those who don’t believe or believe differently and I thought of how rarely I share my reasons for believing. 

Worried over not being theological enough, not being skilled at debating, it’s tough to explain such a significant relationship, one of believing someone and some things I’ve yet to see. 

You have to see for yourself, these things we’re incapable of seeing. 

My faith, my believing is because of answered prayers, it’s splendidly simple. 

Big challenges, little shows of His glory, sweet gifts, these are the answers I’ve known. 

So amazing, I liken it to being close enough to touch the scars, the places where he bled. 

Prayers and blessings and peace,

Reasons I believe.

Hope and Hard Truth

I shook my finger at someone today. I saw myself, a visual that made me pause.

I assure you this is not my confident approach. I noticed my movement, wished my hands had kept still.

Talking with my hands, reiterated my stance with finger pointing then for extra effect bouncing, a strong and affirmative nod.

My words were needed; they were justified.

Oh, the hard things, the tough stuff, the role of pointing out and redirecting the wrong.

I walked away, hands tied, heart uncertain.

How is it I’m looking all around, walking heavy, quick steps away from the issue, then I catch a glimpse and I bend to see more closely?

How it is, is God.

I consider it a gift, a feather found as I thought of the burden of being the one whose role requires speaking hard truth.

And following through.

Like a parent who only shows up when things get out of hand, I’m the one who comes in and takes charge, shouts hard truths to those who’ve never been told.

Let it go as long as I can then second, third, fourth, and fifth guess my reaction, a decision must be made.

This is the work of helping another; yet, knowing when perhaps you’ve helped too much.

The dirty little secret of the “helping” profession. Hurt people hurt people. People who’ve gone without will take all they are able, as much as you will give.

So, I walk with music after work, seeking a hint of the lengthy sabbatical I’ve been hinting at pursuing.

It’s evening. I’ve handled conflict. I’ve yawned through meetings and been frustrated by responses of others.

I walk. I run, this evening.  I hear a song saying,

“Whatever’s in front of me help me to sing hallelujah!”

And I see hope,  one bird up high flying alone against thick, thick sky.

I understand, the one left to stand alone, to stand up, stand their ground.


Leadership is lonely sometimes.

Left to fly alone.

To lay the foundation, give directions for growth, do our best to cultivate what’s not recognized as a seed that will grow if watered consistently with consistent expectations.

Sometimes I see the growth, others I only get to imagine what might eventually bloom.

And still others stay the same, taking longer to grow and I’m left to wonder if the breaking through ground happened ever.

I choose to believe, there was good in the soil we watered at the base of their feet, the place of hitting bottom, finding ways to rise anew.

I will always choose to believe, and always I err on the side of hope.

Hopeful every morning that I am a compassionate one holding accountable those whom God has placed within the reach of my helping hands.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:22-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

So, tomorrow I’ll make decisions, I’ll hold accountable someone needing to be held accountable with more compassion than today,  I pray.

Better today, more uplifted and “standing tall on the inside”, thanks to Jennifer Dukes Lee. Read her beautiful story about her father’s wisdom and bravery here: http://jenniferdukeslee.com/youre-feeling-weak-defeated-try/

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The Place of Grace

“Coastal” 

I get lost here.

Little corner room, back of the house, I’ve not called it “studio”.

Most likely won’t ever. 

No prompting or edit,  just doing and done. I begin, am absorbed and oblivious and I continue. 

I finish, am uplifted, content. 

Emptying of mind, freeing up of space cluttered by my strict measure of certain or not so.

My fingers in the paint, open tubes and little jars, chalky smooth or shiny pastel.

Scattered about my desk, dark wood and spackled color. 

Sit, stand, walk away and come back.

It’s a joyous abandonment.

The rare place I give myself grace. 

No restraints, time or talent up for dispute. 

Music in the corner slinkin’ out into the room and someone might peek in to say hello or goodbye, but only for a minute.

My sacred spot, they’re careful in their kind intrusion.

My solace, unruffled by my perception of demand.

I coat the canvas in neutral hue, wait patiently and decide. 

Time to understand, to listen in the quiet enough to hear. 

Place that feels so true I wonder if there’s need of disclaimer:

No worries, I’m fine, just talking to myself and speaking real clear and true.  Look away if you might be so moved or unmoved by “too much Lisa”. 

Sometimes, I know, my words seem broken. The times I remember grace, abandon the yearn for glory. The grace too true not to be brave. 

Then, I paint and again, I can pray the prayer of surrender…to truly, truly finally grasp what it means to let go, let be, let being.

Let my words and my story grow from an abandoned mind, my words flow like color.

A shadow here, bright light there, layers thick and tactile, real because of grace… “The Colors of my Bible”. 

I understand now, the reason time passes me by, I dip my feet in the pool of contentment and then I rest in the place where I go to paint. 

The place that is easy, the grace given me by me, my place of grace. 

Reminding me of grace, amazing it is, that place I remember grace.

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

‭‭John‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 Profit and Loss


I’ve been told I should paint

something 

other than 

angels. 

And so, I consider the landscape. I think

in terms of abstraction. Thick paints, maybe floral; perhaps, a rooster or crow.

Then, someone who sat with her daddy today

until the moment he became breathless.

She messaged me to say,  “I look at your angels and feel at peace.”

And I want to say, me too. 

But, that feels self-serving. I don’t. 

Instead, I say “I am so very sorry for your loss.”

 because

I remember

and I am. 

Steady Now

My little Gideon

I almost slipped. The floor causing squeaky basketball sounds, “shuffle, shuffle…squat, shuffle, shuffle, squat!”

My right foot almost folded. I paused in the repetition, considered faking injury, dropping out. 

Began again though, doing this push me farther than before thing. 

Getting stronger, not smaller, I’m changing me for the better. 

Inside too, I woke with this song this morning, “O’ Come to the altar…O’ what a Savior…hallelujah !”

Setting the tone, making steady the way I’m walking today. I pray and I say thank you for teaching me to persist. 

I say thank you for fresh perspective, music in my ear and a tiny Bible close to my work with words that my eyes land upon, saying “I’ve got you…you got this!”

A new idea, I’m excited, plans to prosper them! 

Plans, Passages, Prospering

Keep me steady now, Lord.  Day by day, dear Lord I pray. 

Music, scripture, prayer and persistence.

Steady now. 


Linking up with a community of ideas and grace and writing for Five Minute Friday! 

Visit here:  FMF 

Like the Mornin’

I’m gonna do my very best.

I declare. I am. 

Decided, just now, to live more like the morning.

Easy like Sunday or Wednesday or Tuesday,

Mornin’.

Try to live all day “easy peasy” like the thin lines on the blinds becoming silvery gray, drawing me to wake and early, saying let’s go and see.

Morning, takin’  it easy on me.

Time for anticipating, of dark coffee, pink pencil and the corner sofa spot where the tall thin lamp shines down in a quiet welcome, come.

I’m gonna live like morning all day if I can.

To be less frustrated by the unexpected unfriendliness of the day, I’ll turn back to my morning page reread and I’ll decide,

Okay, show me again. I know I read it in your book, underlined, recorded and thought for more than a second…this is God and this is good. This is for me.

No more gettin’ sidetracked by demands and details, brain overloaded from multiple tasks.

I’ve decided to try, too good not to, just try to break the habit of thinkin’ dread and despair and doubt. The things that come out most every middle of the day, like a prisoner breaking out, they’re gonna make their mischief, stir up stuff.

I’m gonna try, here and ready to begin yet again to be unswayed by patterns or people or less than promising plans.

Give me back my morning, no kidding.

I will surely thank me.

If I can live like morning for just a little bit longer like the summer sunrise lingers lazily deciding,  I’m staying up late, I’d surely be more contented come the night.

I’d stretch out my morning mind and soul, establish new ways.

I’m gonna live like the morning, savor it like creamy brown coffee, the color of thick chocolate shake.

I’m gonna cup my cup of morning and do better, I decide.

Less straining towards back home to sigh and declare oh, another day, another day…

Live easy like the mornin’,  yes, so much less me, so much more Him.

“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭143:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

Discovering this Thursday morning, a beautiful and oh, so timely post about joy and suffering at quietlyreminded.com 

What a pretty place to visit, art and words and grace and truth! 

 
Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee as she writes about family.

http://jenniferdukeslee.com/just-needed-someone-love-god-made-family/

Oh, My, Goodness and Thank You Wow

What does one say when a respected blogger, ever thought provoking in his content, and simply breathtaking in his visuals decides to share your words? 
It’s been a long day | Live & Learn

It’s been a long day

You say “Oh, My, Goodness!” and then since he’s a New Yorker, you explain to him that oh my goodness means wow, thank you, wow! And you hope he smiles to have been schooled in all things Southern. 
Again, I am thankful and amazed of the ways God continues to “enlarge my borders”.

More or Less

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Tiny House

Off to the side, a brilliant flash of blue and I’ve given up on capturing the shot with my phone. 

I’ve learned the “momentary-ness” of the bluebird is in itself a message, there will be chances again, encounters with happy bird. 

I think of my cousin; she sits on her porch and thinks of life and loss and love and our Lord. 

I remember the bluebird resting on her lantern, she told me so.  

It meant something to her in that very moment, did me too. 

We’d waited to walk until after the rain, the labrador’s paws searching for shallow puddle and hoping for pond. 

I remembered the nest I found and I wondered if this is where the sparrow came from, the one who rustled the bushes, startled by my search for tennis ball. 

I thought of the sparrow all week, strangely contemplating the words of Jesus. 

“Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31

‭Because, most days I’m in the middle, more or less assured.

I  believe the middle must be me, must be that place of  humility that doesn’t look like insecurity. 

Days little things flit by like a bluebird. Little truths I must hold fast, must chronicle somehow.


My daughter, my guide, my wise gauge saying “too much, Lisa” or “Let, that go.” when I complained of lack of a thank you for a painting. 

Then she countered it with “your angel ministry has impacted so many people…”

She’d never called my art my “ministry”.

Oh.

I’d thought she thought that too much me.

Like blue or red bird unprepared to see, those are words I cherish. 

My son encouraging me to “give it time”, this first real commitment to my health, the healthy way.  He sees me sweaty. 

He sees me trying, won’t let me be weak. 

Like mental bullet lists, this momentary really only “secondary”  stuff is making me brave. 

Making me believe I’m worth more than I believe. 

So, we ventured down towards the pond, Colt’s leash taut with the pull of high grass and cool water. 

The frogs were singing, the thickness of humidity making their song deep down and hollow.  

The lab tilts his head, meanders towards the sound, two, three times, comes from the water then goes again, a lazy dip. 

I don’t worry with sticks or retrieving, just let him dip down, then walk my way then go back to cool again, again. 

The hill back up feels steeper. Did we choose a different angle back home? 

Slowly, we reach the pavement and again, a thought.

So significant, I wondered if others have such thoughts. 

Thoughts so true and clear and with no one around, just you and the wide open whatever and wherever that all of sudden, 

You utter, “Ohhh.” as your thought becomes voice and makes a sound.  

A sound that starts up high like an excited revelation but, then drops to a sauntered fade of realization that says but, what if, not possible or “Oh, well.”

These are the moments, I believe, that 

God says, “I know, child. I know.”

I’d seen a tiny truck on the interstate, driving too slow, I passed and glanced over longing to see a handsome frame like my daddy’s; but, not so.

This, I remembered walking Colt back home. 

The thought of my father became a sound and it validated my longing. 

I touched it, not for long and I could let it go, acceptance again. 

It was beautiful in its comfort. 

Oh.

Confirmation like feather then, grace resting in His understanding of me. 

“I know it’s hard, hard for you to know,

To believe you’re worth more than the sparrow. 

Let me show you.

 You are. Fear not the voices inside that shout out to turn back from where I’m leading you.

Utter “Oh” but, never “Oh, well.”

Look at the sparrow, Lisa Anne; consider the lily.

Remember the writer, her message last week. “You were MADE for this.”

Remember these truths more, 

Your fears, less. 

Happy Father’s Day in heaven daddy. 

Linking up with The Mom Gene to share my Sunday Thoughts, a new group for me. Happy to find it. 

The Essence of Days

Forward with Grace

Wouldn’t it be phenomenal to carry around all day…all the day long, 

the little confirmations

epiphanies 

the truths spoken by another

that happen to be gracefully

placed in your lap?

Most especially the ones that ease your mind

lessen the pressing pressure of what next, what now, what if and what if not? 

The ones that make resting and trusting and doing just our small part in this ginormously, great big world more like grace and less like not enough, even drudgery? 

God is for us. God is with us. 

Step easy, Lisa, tell others the same, that 

there are places He is preparing. 

Seemingly insignificant or maybe no step at all; yet, even my planted feet and heart in places I think dull and lowly are privy to the light.

We are not meant to be seen as God’s perfect, bright shining examples, but to be seen as the everyday essence of ordinary life exhibiting the miracle of His grace. 

Wisdom from Oswald Chambers

The seemingly useless steps are taking us to places we’ll be a light, maybe be warmed by the light of another. Then, round the corner and look back, enlightened. 

I believe this. 

I am trusting this as truth. 

I just keep taking the next step knowing there’s no call for standing in the crowd and recounting my failures, there’s no retribution that demands I shrug off the notice of the works of my hands. 

There’s no need to deny or lessen the good by stepping back into my wanderings to tell of the bad. 

There’s grace in the ordinary life I live that just needs to live, knowing it’s all miracle, all of this beautiful stuff every morning. 

All the days long. 

A wise man I read as often as possible shares occasionally, using the phrase “Miracle, All of It” and gracious his words are beautiful and true examples! 

The everyday essence. Bird nests discovered, things coming through, us being children of God, dogs snoring, eyes waking, happenstance meetings to discover “me too”. 

No accidental occurrences. 

Miracles

of grace. 

And us happy all the day because of them. 

This is God’s desire,

I believe.