Pausing

I’ve not always been this way.

Maybe I have, I’d just been quiet about it.

Yes, that’s it. Always and ever aware of every speck of life around me, a keen sense of alert or rest, now though it’s become a present pause.

And because I recognize the significance of its prompt, to stop and be attentive, to associate my pauses with God,

I’m not concerned with keeping it a secret, this  beautiful life I’ve come to know.

The beauty of it all, the wonder of it all.

That God would know there would be moments I’d pause to see sunlight shadows across my freshly straightened duvet, a bed made in haste; yet, I pause now and smile.

At the realization of God, my comforter.

Because, I read and have cherished words like,

Calmness can lay great errors to rest. Ecclesiastes 10:4

Regardless of greatness of my error(s),  He is greater.

You may get to this place too, over halfway through your life, when you could care less if people call you too serious, less sociable than most or find it odd, your love of sky and bird, petals bright, of sound and glory.

Might get to the place that it will not matter, the glorious pauses with God far exceeding the fitting in with others, the moan and groan of our competitive inward striving doldrum of day.

Pause, when you see it, pause

Every time.

You will see.

On a morning like now, when the birds are silent telling of coming storm

And I’ve prayed for traveling mercy, knowing “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”

What a day it has been here in Carolina. We traveled mercifully and for many reasons, I’m thankful he kept us in his hands. 

Im linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee. She shares a beautiful and insightful piece on knowing “how to pray” and I’m humbled that she chose me again, by sharing my post  on strawberries and new towels, simple things reminding me of “enough”. 

This explanation of “teaching us to pray” is so very good: http://jenniferdukeslee.com/everyone-else-doesnt-know-pray/

Everything, Fine and Surrendered


Every little place, an intersection, crossing of path, if we pay attention.  A piece on prayer featured my simple words on content. 

A friend told me she couldn’t pull herself out of a helpless state. I told her how she’d not forgotten how to pray, just forgotten to be honest with God.

Told her to rest, to lay it all down before her body catches up with her desperately despaired and depleted mind. 

I’d find it odd, were it not for my belief. The way all paths cross, an exchanging of grace. 

Yesterday, I prayed.  

I moved from ten feet or so as I stood unable to not move.  I’d not considered need, felt it in ways it could not be made numb and found myself desperate to let my anxieties be known. 

And if you think of it, the need to let go, to tell, to unburden the heart in reply to invitation to move. 

It is such a small thing that leads to mighty owning up to. 

Now, I’m not one to be prompted to move. The whole force and demand or prayer like hitting knees for show in the sanctuary. 

This is not a thing  I do, in fact I reject, resist the demand.  I’m aware of the human need for attention, for embrace, I’ll not find fault. 

Everyone fights a hard battle, carries a secret sorrow. 

But,  I took those ten or so feet and I said to my pastor who’d sensed my struggle, his eyes finding the search behind my attentive gaze and he met me with his strong hand on my shoulder. 

I said. “I need to surrender my writing to God.” 

“Yes” he said and I couldn’t see his face, both of us bent down together. 

But, I felt his “Yes.” more than hearing or seeing could ever equate. 

He prayed and then said “It’s going to be fine.”

And I turned to return to my place on the pew, thinking what a thing to say; It’s going to be fine. 

It’s going to be fine.  My eyes are moist upon remembering. 

Today, I discovered my words noticed by another, shared as a Featured writer, my piece on contentment. 

I felt what I am lately calling an exchange of grace, of fine things.

In quiet confidence is my strength. Isaiah 30:15

Lovely Word


I may not do justice to the idea of this thing, the “Lovely Blog Award” thing.

I’m afraid I don’t read nearly enough.  I have five or so books bedside usually and I discipline myself to return the love when a blogger likes something I write.

Tammy at faithhopefoodlove a writer who has blessed me by thanking me for being calm and honest. She nominated me for this award called “lovely”.

Last week this time, I’d heard about a book and pushed myself through the Saturday things my mama left me, her legacy to see fit I do them.

Clean smelling house, floors and linens good and tubs and toilets scrubbed. This was our Saturday morning.

I honor her.  My daughter does too.

Striving towards being done and hoping the library has longer hours than before when we’d go on Saturday, my children and I.

I made it in plenty of time, our library now a refuge for those needing to come in and sit, peruse or just be inside.  The librarian smiled when I had no idea they’d updated the card catalog system and then took me over to show off the upgrade.

Together, we found the books, one fiction, one poetry, one non-fiction.

Later, I made my place on the couch, intentional in leaving my phone down the hall and I began to read the words of Anne Lamott. A skinny little book with only three chapters, her summation of prayer, “Help, Thanks, Wow”.

It wasn’t the book I’d gone in search of, I’d gone to find a book to help my writing, a book called “Bird by Bird”. It wasn’t there, so I considered the book on prayer.

I almost set it aside, decided to go no further. The roots of my “independent Baptist” raising clinging tightly, angry and resistant to opening.  She likes to call God “her” and she is a storyteller of stories that include things not allowed in the church of my raising. She says out loud how hard it is to get our hands on the knowledge of God and words and thoughts that get heard and things then happen. Her words are lovely, honest and true.

I do not know much about prayer, but I have come to believe, over the last twenty-five years, that there’s something to be said about keeping prayer simple. Help. Thanks. Wow.

We can pray, “Am I too far gone, or can you help me out of my isolated self obsession?”  We can say anything to God. It’s all prayer.

So, I almost rejected the value of this book for the sake of being shamed by old memories of who I wasn’t and who I could never be.

Man, those childhood things stick, don’t they?

Back to the ” lovely blog award”.  I’m told I should say a few things about myself:

1. I’m often caught between hiding and shining my light, recognition is a tad bit complex for me, being noticed while staying humble seems a contradiction. My daughter said recently, “Just say Thank you, God and be happy.”

2.  I love dark chocolate with almonds and coffee flavored gelato, peanut butter crunchy.

3. I miss my parents; but, rarely bring it up.

4. I treasure in ways no one on earth can measure, the gift of a daughter and son. I’m settled finally, loving well and good and happy to grow old with my husband and a “happy way of life”.


5. I threw away an Art scholarship because my roommate, a feisty and funny girl from England taught me how to drink and how to stay skinny.

6. I now, as of yesterday have an Author page on Amazon. I’m a contributing author in a book called “I Heart Mom”. No books have I written. I am here, thus far.

I Heart Mom

7. I pray many times a day, some days and times in a way that might resemble ritual, others like Anne Lamott describes, “Wow and Thanks and please help me, Jesus.” I pray because I can recount specific times God answered. I believe, not because I have seen; but, because I know and notice what God has brought me to and through.

Because He sees me.


So, I have a few blogs I love for different reasons.

Here we go:

Living Our Days Biblical wisdom, grace and faith conveyed.

Relax cut to the chase truth and wisdom

Live & Learn because his posts are phenomenal, especially “Lightly, child lightly” and because I imagine him a big city success, still he regularly reads my words.

Ebs and Flows because from across the ocean he sends me waves of confidence.

faithhopelovefood because of her kindness and strength.

A Simple, Village Undertaker because he is a “prompter”.

Faith Adventures because she writes gently, faithfully.

Carolina Cisneros because she is brave.

Dawn Leopard  because I know and consider her faith a model.

Each of these, a diverse group, I “follow” and return the favor of grace, enlightenment and word.

Quiet confidence, my ongoing prayer request. Keep me Lord, quietly confident.

 

Strawberries, New Towels and Sweet Potatoes 

On Saturday morning,  I had granola at 11:30.

Strawberries and banana scooped from the bottom in their pool of creamy milk, the crunchy crisp clinging to little bites.

My Saturday freely open and my husband piddling around while I moved as slow as my body had inclination or not.

I woke looking, searching not frantic over the loss; but,  in a longing way, hoping there’d be a shift like a soft breeze when you’re found pausing enough. I took my time.

Penciling thoughts, thinking I love pencil really over pen and reading verses, catching up on things thoughtful.

I love the pale gray on the buff of my journal, I especially love the smoothness of the pencil tip meeting paper as I am joyous over my thoughts making sense becoming more real and worthy of recording.

I straightened the house a little, not much to do and remembered a thick gray towel found when I was in search of new whites.

I washed and dried them all and remembered, a little excited over their newness.

Added the soft thick gray, sandwiched between the big nice whites. I loved it, I decided and gazed upon it like a masterpiece, this new arrangement.

The popcorn on our ceiling mattered not, not anymore. For whatever reason, the feeling was “content.”

I saw the beauty of now. Of all I have, how amazingly quite enough it all is. The gray taupe of towel, candle holders, shelf, tiny vase and slim forsythia branch a little dried.

I cherished the sight of it all, the measure of content, the serving of satisfaction.

So, I scrubbed my face and the day becoming more beautiful, dressed for walking.

A long way we walked. I let him off the leash, and he swam with geese. I captioned his pic “YOLO”

Yeah, we only live once.

I thought the other day if there might be a lesson I could pass on to those called “millennial ” it would to learn somehow, some way the skill, the mindset, the aspiration of sustaining contentment.

Because, by Sunday night I was sullen again over what might be true, what might be the reaction to those truths I have decided to share for the sake of my story of Jesus.

So, yeah…I believe the key to life might, in fact, be sustaining contentment.

I see now, to be content in all is a secret few find.  We must learn from remembering the peace of it all, small satisfactory seconds becoming moments, hours, lives.

“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Philippians‬ ‭4:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

But, for most of Saturday and even Sunday,  it was sweet, the contentment over not so big things at all.

I found the sweet potatoes about to dry up, someone had given them to my husband.

I saved a few and peeled them, thinking I’ll coat them in butter, Parmesan sprinkles and bake them. We’ll have burgers, thick with cheese and we’ll dip the fries in a creamy sauce.

We did.

Then Sunday night ended late, my anxious worries unraveled in some twilight and cinematic dreams.

I woke and my spot welcomed me to the first little tidbit, a quote,

Be faithful in small things, for it is in small things that your strength lies. Mother Teresa

Just now, this evening a reply from a comment I left on a blog that began my day.

She says, “Lisa, I’m so proud of you for sharing a glimpse of your BIG dreams with me. It is difficult to find satisfaction in small beginnings, but I believe that God invites us to linger there a while longer, so we learn to live for Him alone. This way, when we do achieve some measure of success in the world’s eyes, we won’t be carried away on the wind of pride and self-satisfaction.”

I’ll not tell you how many times I’ve read this reply, simply for the sake of its value and truth, she could never have known.

This afternoon I told someone,

“God weaves us all together, we all matter, one to another. It’s his pattern.”

And this is before I read Sarah Koonst’s post at http://www.sarahkoontz.com/ and commented because I had been remembering the contentment of strawberries, new towels, and sweet potatoes.

Small things, great big grace, and love.

Thank you, God, for your grace thus far.
Oh, another Saturday little, sweet thing.

I was Nominated for the “Lovely Blog Award” by http://faithhopelovefood.com/ and will be posting really soon about this special thing and all the other little small and special things.

So many wise words. We are all engaged in an exchange of grace.

Today, I’m linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee. Read her beautiful words evoking a beautiful sight here: http://jenniferdukeslee.com/jesus-sits-cross-legged-end-bed/

 If not for Easter

I read from the Old Testament.

I turn the pages back, I always do the hard things first, move on more confident in completing the others and feeling more connected and encouraged, courageous.

I stopped on a verse about bringing all things valuable to God, gold and trinkets and valuables, such things worthy of being offered at the throne of God.

I would have nothing to give. What on earth could I have given? Wedding rings and tiny diamond studs? Bracelets here and there, gifts from my daughter, my son? I’d bring them there and leave them. They’d pale in comparison to the mounds of others left seeking to be atoned.

“And we have brought the Lord ‘s offering, what each man found, articles of gold, armlets and bracelets, signet rings, earrings, and beads, to make atonement for ourselves before the Lord.”

‭‭Numbers‬ ‭31:50‬ ‭ESV‬‬


I underlined here.  I penciled in the margin.

What would I have to bring?

I flipped to Psalms and read the verses describing the people who could never be satisfied, who forgot about the wonders and good things of God.

Sometimes I forget, I remember.

Miracles like parted seas, food raining down from heaven and protection from horrific famine, terror and defeat…led by Moses because God told him he could and he believed, even when the thousands did not.

“They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭78:11

Then, I return to the Book of John and I am open hearted and minded and perhaps, even excited.

Because, the Book of John and the people Jesus decided mattered when no one else cared, these are the people who are making me strong, the women like me.

I understand the woman Jesus greeted as she waited to be stoned, tried to be as hidden as she could.  I imagine her smile as Jesus tells the others, cast a stone if you’re free of sin. If not, go your way.

And they did.

I can see the surprise on the woman’s face who’d known many men when Jesus told her, I know you too.

It’s time to thirst no more for what has not quenched you before you. He gave her water, living water.

So she told everyone who she met and how she was changed.

And this morning, in John 20, I am reacquainted with Mary Magdalene, the one weeping over the empty tomb.

The one Jesus healed, her mind able to see more clearly, whatever demons had entangled her thoughts, he removed.

No wonder she called him “Teacher”. She longed to learn more.

Mary Magdalene was healed by Jesus.

Lots of modern day reviewers of scripture call her a prostitute. She had seven demons and she anointed the feet of Jesus. She was the first to hear him speak when all the others had lost hope.

She heard him say her name.

She called him “Teacher” and followed him from the time he turned her life around, to his grave. When she and the disciples discovered the tomb empty, they left.

But, she lingered.

Grief is complicated.

Sometimes we stick with sorrow because sorrow is all we have left that is them, the one we are grieving. If we discard or sorrow, what then will remind?

So, I believe on Resurrection morn, Mary lingered in the last place her Savior and her Teacher, the one who changed her had been.

It’s barely daylight, she’s alone but oblivious to the possible danger or question of others. A man appears as her head lifts from her chest. She thinks he’s the gardener, maybe a worker, maybe there to clear up the mess the ones who’d removed Jesus left behind.
She asks if he knows where the body has gone.

“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Jesus asked why she was weeping.

She turns and Jesus says, “Mary”.

She answers, “Teacher” and goes quickly to tell the others he lives.

“I have seen the Lord.”

I have not seen and it can be hard to believe; but I do. 

And if it were not for Easter, I’d not be free.

This I know, this I believe. 

I’ve not enough valuables or golden and cherished jewels to atone me. 

Grace, grace thus far. 

And mercy. 

 Because of mercy.

Mountains, moved 

We had dinner downtown, she’d made reservations and we allowed ourselves indulgence for the sake of memory. 

We traveled with intent of finding treasures for the beginning of their first home. 

Nothing was found. Frustration mounted over sluglike people convening upon a metal building that was called a barn but was a warehouse of metal full of signs lettered, “Hey, ya’ll”. 

People moving slow, pushing us forward, their breath and bodies so close behind and in front, far be it we pause to consider purchase. 

We got out soon and never got to shop for antiques, our choice, we reconsidered the day, made it new. 

Had a yummy little lunch, napped sort of and had simple supper followed by coffee, cheesecake and chocolate in double decker bus. Fun. People, cats on a leash and couples, we decided on first dates.

Then, we slept in the pretty room with the pretty things. She, before me. I read a little and thought of what I’d decided before we left…”these will be days of small things.”

On Sunday morning, she woke early and I pretended to sleep. I’d thought of the man and wife from England, disappointed over the Blue Ridge up towards mountain blocked. 

I couldn’t help but wonder whether they were not to go further or maybe they were to ignore the warning and proceed. After all, there had been no ice, no snow, no storm. 

But, they heeded the warning and turned back…went no further, returned to be met by others for evening’s gathering.

I’d fallen asleep thinking of the mountain they longed to see, but had been turned back.  Had decided not for us to see, to know. 
And when I woke, lying in the quiet after my daughter had returned to her side, I remembered my thinking of mountains and of them being moved.

 I decided on Sunday morning on the trip with my daughter that I should keep going towards what I wonder may come true. 

I should continue taking steps, not giving up and that mountains are not only for circling ’round and mountains are not only for going through. 

Sometimes, yes, still mountains can be moved. 

Peeking behind the blind, the sun is rising. 

The mountain has been moved.  

I wear a gold bracelet with the silhouettes of daughter and son, an artist palette and a tiny mustard seed in a little bubble of a charm. 
What is this faith, Lisa, this little drop in the bucket that’s already there that will ripple the waters, maybe turn the tide? 

This faith, this tiny seed called your treasure is moving the mountain, the mountain of doubt, fear, or slinking back and of believing it’s all too much. 

No need to consider traveling through or circling around. 
The mountain, the thing I worry looms and dooms. 

It can be moved. 

I fold my hands and I pray in the tiny little room with the claw foot tub, for this understanding of mountain that can be moved. 

It is well with me. There is no need to worry over the climb,  the ascent, the scariness of hard and jagged places. 

For, if I am to travel to places that seem too high, just the thought of them, I may discover the ground has been leveled and I’m standing in fields of grassy green, my arms open wide and my face towards heaven, moist with joyful tears. 

It is well with me. 

 For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭17:20‬ ‭
Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee. She too, wears a little piece of jewelry that contains a tiny but mighty reminder, the mustard seed. 

http://jenniferdukeslee.com/amount-faith-need-handle-problems/

Trust and Amen

Begin, get lost along the

way. 

Come back. 

Find, then abandon, lose again,  yourself

in the place of believing in your word, your color, your marks, layered color and

or authentic story on page or canvas and

be glad that you’re glad no matter. 

Sit back, step back. 

Yes, this is me. 

Alleluia, Amen. 

Trust and Amen. 

Here’s something you may not know. 

I went to college on art scholarship but, I was not ready, got a little lost…30 plus years later, I am painting and it is joy. 

I missed my studio aka Heather’s old room…after a weekend away and no commissions to be fulfilled, so I painted this afternoon and into evening. 

This piece is a 16×20 mixed media on canvas…graphite, watercolor, pastel, acrylic with just a tiny hint of hymn peeking through…the words, Trust and Amen. 
Send a message if you’d like to purchase.

Sparks and Moon

I must make it memorable by recording, lest I forget or lose the 

moment that came back so very sweet like a smile and surprised my end of the day bland and fatigued mind.

I took the road less trafficked because it was a late meeting and Spring, deciding not to be Spring, it wasn’t quite ready after all.

Had me bitter, cold, annoyed and hurrying towards home for the sake of day being done at last. 

A late, long day,  change to save daylight and winter’s harsh unwelcome return on a Tuesday night. 

I drive, exhausted and cold.  Blank. 

The drifting, mind unfocused, eyes on the road ahead. 

The sky, navy blue and the street granite gray, I catch a swirling spark, 

In the periphery of my blue eye. 

Bright and  red, orange, gold and silvery white…the colors spread in a puddle on the street as the car ahead eases on. 

Then I remember and remember sweetly well. 

The place I sat in the back, looking at the road behind the long black station wagon late at night we always travelled. 

My daddy “cracked the window” the cold air came in and touched my cheek.

I waited to see the flicker of the ashes, the bright sparks from the flame as daddy dropped the butt, gingerly his finger flicked as we  floated  down the road.

Back to grandma’s, from Carolina, north to Georgia, Bulloch. 

Going home for Christmas. 

I leaned to press my face against cold of winter window and my eyes saw the moon as it followed us back home.

Sparks flying up and the 

Moon following me. I said it followed us all the way and daddy let me believe it so. 

Morning Call

One of the gifts of blogging is finding other writers and thinkers who write or share writing that stops you because of the truth and beauty of words. This blogger, David Kanigan, reads my blog. I most likely will never meet him; but, because another very good friend and encourager, Ray Visotski convinced me I could write, I discovered the wisdom and beauty of words more so than before. 
So, don’t stop here…read this blog today if you feel like you’re taking 10 steps back as opposed to only a few forward. 
Happy Wednesday !
Morning Call

https://lisanne3015.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/morning-call

Live & Learn

Today, if you’re confronting an issue for the ten thousandth time, or feeling that your life is going nowhere, or panicking over how little you’ve achieved, stop and breathe. You’re not falling behind on some linear race through time. You’re walking the labyrinth of life. Yes, you’re meant to move forward, but almost never in a straight line.

Martha Beck, from The Labyrinth of Life


Notes:

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See, Jesus

 

It’s cold in Carolina, maybe not nearly as cold as Tennessee; but, it’s cold and the azaleas I wonder, the petals that mark the season might be confused, wishing they’d not shown themselves so soon.

I understand, the exposure threatening the brilliance of a blooming, finally.

I go to open the door, looking for the sound of bird heard from my morning spot, the sound that caused the big lab’s head to tilt in the sweetest of pose. Slide the sliding door and look towards the hedge and it appears quickly, a cardinal as if waiting for me to come and see.

I prayed this morning asking God that I might be more like Jesus. I pondered the thoughts of the stories I’d been reading, found myself returning to, the stories of redemption of people who’d done wrong.  I’ve been resting there with the stories of scarlet colored women, the ones who’d given up on self and on God and the ones who the onlookers judged Jesus by his lack of judgment.

These are chapters and books graced by the printers to have changed the ink to red in certain places, spectacular words.

The Samaritan woman, a small and miserly man in a tree, the young son blind and fearing he and his parents caused his disability and the woman,  red-faced and expecting to be stoned, her reputation. Everyone told Jesus of her bad things; but, he said see others have them too, here’s your chance, go and live more freely.

Yesterday, there was a conversation about uncaring words spoken by those who mask insecurity. Women who long for things to meet covered up unmet needs. The conversation went too long. It tried to be one of understanding; but, became an enjoyable exchange with slight giggles of how “I’m glad I’m not like her.” with excitement in our eyes over the realization we’re different,  “Hey, we love Jesus, kinda makes us better.”

Oh, my goodness.

I woke up wondering about the ones who taunted Jesus, the ones who were in charge who he met along the way.  I wondered if they ever came close to making him feel less than who he knew he was purposed to be. The ones who pushed his “insecurity buttons” and if he were like me, he might have either hidden away or told them just how pompous and arrogant they were and that they too had insecurities…”why don’t you be yourself and quit trying to hide them?!.”

Silly to think, that Jesus might confront unlovingly. He is love and justice

Mercy, humility, and kindness.

    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

 

He became human so he’d understand us, yet, he never once acted from the place, ugly human.

So, this morning, I prayed that I’d love the unlovable.

I’ve loved the needy. I’ve had empathy for the homeless and abused. I’ve cradled dirty and lonely children in my arms and smiled when they smiled back. I’ve helped those who cursed me and cursed at me and I’ve listened to stories of grief that make no sense at all.

But, Father, I ask you to help me love the pompous. Help me baffle them with my grace, your grace. Help me love those who cause me to be insecure, the ones who hide their own insecurities at the cost of my conclusion that I’m unlike them and unworthy

because I only wrote a story, not a book.

Yes, God, I pray I see more clearly the ones who cover their wounds, shielded by the shadows of pointing out the “less than or less beautiful than another” in hopes of being undoubtedly enough…or more than.

See, Jesus, help me to see like you, like a lone red bird

fluttering by on a cold morning calling me out.

Help me to see, Jesus.

See, Jesus

 

Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee here: http://jenniferdukeslee.com/learning-live-audience-one/