Tap, tap, tap

Three baby robins waiting for mama to bring more food

At times, it feels like God isn’t listening, the heavens are brass, there is a wall that seemingly no amount of prayer or praise can penetrate.

Of course, I know that this is when faith comes in. This is where I am supposed to press in, to trust and wait patiently. But my human need for immediate attention cries out. Impatience prevails. Anger even rears it’s ugly head.

I was having one of these seasons recently. Well, it felt like a season but in reality, it was only a couple of days. My maternal cares for my children and other concerns were crowding out my joy. I could say I am 100% joyful all the time with never a care in the world but that would be a lie. I’ve realized that it’s okay to call on others for help and for prayer when the oppressive thoughts are wearing you out. I had felt a heaviness weighing on me and I needed relief but I couldn’t hear God, couldn’t sense His presence.

I had requested prayers from a couple of trusted women and was about to sit down and begin my days work.

Here, I must backtrack for a minute and tell you that there was a robin’s nest where three beautiful blue eggs had recently produced three hungry babies, situated in a gutter on my porch. My granddaughter and I would watch the mama bird forage for worms and bugs tirelessly all day long. She would bring them back faithfully to nourish her growing triplets.

So, as I am sitting in my office, feeling gloomy, I hear a tap, tap, tap on my window. The birds haven’t done this in a while, so I was surprised to hear it. I carefully opened my back door and the mama bird flew to the grass right off the porch and looked at me with her little head tilted. I looked around and saw the nest and the three babies scattered on the porch. They had fallen down from the gutter along with their nest and she was requesting my help to put it all back together again! That may sound unbelievable to some, but why else did she tap and then sit there and look at me that way?

Carefully, I picked up each baby with a tissue and put them back in the nest and sat it on a table near my back door. A family of doves had nested there last year, but I wasn’t sure if the robin will feel safe enough to return. She did. A few minutes later, I looked outside and she was sitting on the nest.

I walked back into the house and immediately, I felt God’s presence. I felt Him assure me that mama’s will always want to shelter their babies, but sometimes they have to get out of the way and let someone help them, like mama robin had done. I needed to once again, give my cares to Him and get out of the way. He also reminded me how much He cares for me. I felt peaceful, the heaviness lifted and I felt joy again. He answered my prayers with the help of a helpless little mama.

Some people might think this story is for the birds, but I don’t care. God has used his creation and creatures and stranger things than that to make me see the light before. The point is, He cares. We still forget it sometimes, but it doesn’t change the fact.

Blessings,
Lisa

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7

Desperate

Jesus, You were spit on, ridiculed, beaten, called a drunkard, a glutton and a liar. You were betrayed by many including those close to you. You beheld the hatred, the depravity, the gross reality of the state of the human heart. You were hung on a cross between ungodly men, mocked and provoked.

Yet you died for those who had committed these sins against you. You gave your life so that these and many millions after them might have hope, a chance at salvation, and eternal life.

Yes, you were disgusted by the religious leaders, yet so merciful that your love changed Saul to Paul. You got angry, even turned over tables, but never committed sin.

You witnessed the atrocities man is capable of, you heard our pathetic excuses, you saw our doubt and unbelief.

Yet, you died for us.

You knew there would be more of us, generation after generation of self-righteous, flesh-gratifying, self-loving, immoral humans, born into sin.

Yet, you willingly went the way of the Cross.

Your love is unfathomable, your mercy undeserved, your long suffering immeasurable and your grace, ever amazing.

I want to love like you do; to see hearts, instead of hands; to see possibility instead of reality, to see hope instead of despair and life instead of death.

Oh, to truly be your hands and feet, all the time. This is my prayer. I know that kind of love is impossile without Your love, without Your spirit dwelling in me. Teach me, show me, mold me. Forgive me my pride and arrogance, my detestable desire to be right at all costs, any bitterness or hatred towards people who I disagree with. Humble me and break my heart for what breaks yours.

For You are the only hope and my faith is in You always.

One step forward

IMG-7349Outside this morning, I remember being on my knees, in the dirt, pulling weeds.  I felt the slight pull from my incision site as I shifted positions and I was reminded how far I have come in just a few short weeks.  Mind you, as they passed, they felt like long grueling weeks.  Overwhelmed with thankfulness that I am over the worst of it, I sat back in the grass, listened to the birdsong and reflected.

I remember taking that first hesitant step.  It almost brought me to my knees, but I took it.  And, you don’t take one step without anticipating taking another and another.  That is how it’s been; a few more each day, less pain as the steps increase and healing is progressing.

As I reflect on my recent healing journey, I can’t help but see the parallels in emotional and spiritual healing.  We get wounded and we can either take steps toward healing or let fear of further pain stop us in our tracks, immobilizing us.  If we stay that way long enough, body and soul begin to atrophy.  

We often try to shelter ourselves from the unknown, behind our walls of fear keeping us from stepping into the blessed light of healing.

I’m limping now, but I’m moving.  The walk isn’t pretty, but it’s forward.  My steps are sometimes tentative, but step by step I am leaving this pain behind.  

The physical wound is healing, there isn’t as much fear of it splitting open again.  New, strong skin is weaving a covering over what was once a gaping wound.  I’ve covered it some, especially in the beginning for protection, but I’ve also let the sun shine on it.  Importantly, I haven’t touched it.  You can’t keep touching a wound, and expect it to heal.

Now that I am edging closer to full recovery, my progress is greater every day.  I don’t talk about it as much.  I have shed the crutches and the scooter.  It’s all quickly transforming into a memory, albeit one I have learned much from.

So, I think about what I have learned and the main points are three-fold; I need others to help me when I’m at my weakest and I must let them, empathy for others who have gone through something similar and understanding about this particular struggle.  Going forward, if I am wise, I will remember the lesson and encourage others.

Of course, above I have been speaking of my recent foot surgery, but as usual, if you keep your heart open, God will open your eyes and impart knowledge of deeper things through your struggles.

If you are going through any kind of pain, be it emotional, spiritual or physical, just take a step; one small baby step toward recovery and healing.  God will meet you where you are if you will let Him.

Blessings, 

Lisa

 

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien

Mid-Winter Musings

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It’s that time of year when many of the trees are bare except for a few stragglers; dried out crunchy leaves that shiver in the wind but seem to cling ever so tightly to the only home they have ever known.

The days can get overcast, over-long and over-dreary if you let them.  The beautiful colors of fall have disappeared and at first glance, we are left with a monotonous, almost colorless picture.

Oh, but if we look a little deeper, we may catch the flamboyant male cardinal, a mighty splash of red against a mass of drab, dry branches.  Or, we could admire the gentle descent of a pristine snowflake, falling, falling, falling.

One of the things that I find to love about winter is knowing that it’s hiding something beautiful in it’s depths.

Inside the sturdy tree bark, underneath the frozen ground, change is lurking.  Just when it looks like all is dead and cold, the chilly curtain of winter will close and colorful spring will arrive dancing, with all of it’s change and hustle and bustle.

I always say that God used seasons because we are such fickle creatures.  We get bored entirely too quickly.  As soon as spring arrives, we will pine for summer.

If you know me at all, you know that glorious fall is my favorite season of all, but I continue to enjoy the beauty in all of them.

Such is life…We have to learn to find the beauty in the seasons of our lives as well.  Hold fast, spring is coming!

 

While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.  Genesis 8:22

Restful Saturday at home

treeThere is something so deliciously satisfying about an afternoon nap; joyous partly due to the sheer infrequency you get to enjoy the pleasure.  There you are, adrift on the ocean of peaceful slumber so sweet, languidly waking, body warm beneath a cozy blanket.  Equally wonderful is slowly coming alive to the sounds of a fire and family; book pages turning, quiet conversation, a soft snore from someone enjoying the same wondrous pleasure;

Lazily peering over your publication of choice, admiring those whom you love, the scent of holiday baking and lunch left overs hovering in the air.  Relishing these all too rare moments, living in them, appreciating them.  Thankful that in this moment, there is no rush, no deadline and nothing on social media worthy of stealing this time of hushed leisure.

Time is ticking, hurriedly rushing forward to the next hour.  May we cherish restful times like these and the cherished ones we share them with.  It’s too easy to squander our time with loved ones during the holidays as we get caught up in the hustle and bustle.  We should strive to truly “be there” in every shared moment.

Happy December 1st,
Blessings,

Lisa

“Mommy, be my safe”

IMG-1434When my eldest was around 3 years old, she began to express her fears or concerns with her own original phrase that I thought was just precious.

When we found ourselves in situations where there appeared to be a cause for concern, she would nestle her tiny little body up close to mine and quietly say, “Mommy, be my safe.”  She meant, protect me and shelter me until the threat has passed.  It could be stormy weather or a creepy noise, or that stranger in the grocery store who got a little too close for comfort.

Whatever the peril, she trusted that I would save her from it.  Wrapped around mommy’s legs, with one sticky little hand in mine, she could be at peace.

Yesterday afternoon as the sky darkened, it started to thunder and the wind was bending the tree branches and lightning cracked across the sky.  We went from sunshine to eerie skies, with the promise of a good storm.  My youngest granddaughter came over to me and buried her little head in my lap and then looked up with her big blue eyes and said, “Nana, what noise?”  She’s always said that when she hears a noise that upsets her.  We have always speculated that all the time spent in the NICU and the strange noises might have affected her in some way, so we are always quick to reassure her that all is well.

Her cuteness reminded me of my daughter’s cuteness years before and I smiled thinking of the all the times that we have cried out for help from our Father.   What do our cries for help sound like to Him?  Are there times He thinks we are “cute”?  Do our petitions ever bring a smile to His face because of the way we phrase them?  I think so.

The storms of life roll through without warning, we are exposed to traumatic things all day on whatever type of media we choose, there is so much noise.  Noise, by definition,  is “a sound that is loud or unpleasant that causes a disturbance”.  Yes, there is much noise in our world.

Thankfully, like my daughter and granddaughter, I have a safe haven, a place where I can run to find peace and comfort.  I can cry out to God, “What noise?!?!”  As He stills and comforts my spirit with His still small voice, I can lean in and say, “Be my safe.”  And, He will, every time.

Thoughts on a summer day

Feet planted in a little green pool painted to resemble a watermelon, I’m thankful for the cool water while sitting on a scorching hot back deck.  I silently wonder how long my feet will be safe from toddler pee or if they have already been contaminated.  Considering I just polished off a blackberry after she licked it and offered it to me, I suppose I will live.IMG-1718

The cardinal showing off his vivid red coat on the fence post looks as if he would love to join Cali in the little pool for a midday bath, but he is staying out of reach.  Smart guy because I am positive he would get more than he bargained for.

Cali, sitting in the shade of her umbrella, is oblivious to the cardinal and seemingly to the heat as well as she munches on blackberries and strawberries and repeatedly dumps water from one bucket to another while singing bits and pieces of “head, shoulders knees and toes”.

I am thankful for my day out shopping, the mani-pedi and a long lunch with two of my favorite people.  I was anxious to get home and babysit this little rascal though tonight after my errands were complete.  With Cali and her mommy living back at home, that means I am the primary baby sitter when Morgan works.  Sometimes, Nana gets a little tired.

We were empty-nesters for a couple of years and I got quite used to my free time.  Time to read or write for hours without interruption.  Time to take a long nap on a Saturday without a little munchkin banging on my door.   Yes, there are times I long for more solitude.

At these times, however, God always reminds me of my prayers to Him when we didn’t know if Cali would make it.  Those long drives to and from Miami filled with fears and tears and prayer.  The months in ICU, the surgery days, the ups and downs.

I’m reminded once again that life is a journey.  We travel through seasons with all kinds of weather.  The seasons will never cease, but we can learn to face them with His strength and grace.  He is our great Help and Comforter.

It is how we handle the journey, it’s our attitude while we walk it out, it’s our abiding in His sweet vine.  Don’t kid yourself into thinking that the next big milestone is the destination, that once that “thing” happens you will forever by happy or you will have finally made it.  There is always something (good and bad) around the corner as long as we walk this earth.  If you acknowledge this, it makes the unknowns a little less intimidating.

Take joy in moments, learn to find the lessons in the trails, look for God’s plan in the middle of your messes, be grateful and find your peace and rest in Him.

Blessings,

Lisa

Cherish the moment you’re in

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What if we woke up thankful for the beauty of a new morning filled with mercy?  If we relished the fresh, cool running water we splashed on our face? if we savored every warm sip of our morning coffee or tea?

If you are like me, you too often have your mind set on the “next thing” to enjoy the now.  We look forward to lunchtime, Friday, summer.  There is nothing wrong with living hopeful and expectant.  The pity is in letting the desire for what is to come, rob any pleasure from the current moment.

If you’ve had children, you know how fast they grow.  You might have even said, “I can’t wait until she walks, talks, starts school, graduates…”  When those milestones and moments pass, you quickly find yourself wanting to reverse them, often aware that you wasted precious time.

When I am living in the moment, that’s when I am the happiest.  When I slow down and allow myself to fully tune in and participate, I thrive.

The added benefit is to others.  When I am living in the moment, slowing down and taking notice, this is when I find myself really pouring into others or at least listening to them.  When I am fully engaged, I catch things like the sadness lurking behind a smile, the worry underneath the nervous laughter or the need for a hug.

When I make it a habit to be intentional about living fully in every God given moment, I am a better person.  I find more peace and more good.

In my spiritual life, it means I’m not clicking off scriptures or praying words of repetition with no heart behind them.  It means I can bask in His presence, taking time to enjoy my heavenly Father.

This is just yet another reminder of something we already know.  Slow down and truly live in the moment.  Be present.  If we truly love our fellow man, we owe it to them and we certainly owe it to our families.

Blessings,

Lisa

Simmering pots and changing views

food-pot-kitchen-cooking.jpg“Up, up”, cried the curly blonde headed toddler as I stirred the big simmering pot of lima beans.  The scent of supper hung in the air, tempting me to perform yet another taste test.  My palate satisfied, I turned to put away the remains of the ham I had used to season my savory soup.

I felt a tug on the leg of my blue jeans, prompting a downward glance at a vision resembling my youngest 20 years ago.

The practical, get-things-done side of me almost said, “Go play, sweetie”, but the Nana in me bursting with love for this little angel, took one look in those blue eyes filled with curiosity and I picked her up and positioned her on my hip instead.

She was fascinated by the steam coming off the pot and pointed toward it, exclaiming “Hot, hot!”.  Right on the heels of “hot, hot”, was “eat, eat”.  I guess she repeats things to make sure she gets her point across.  God does that with me.

As I held her, allowing her to touch the cool granite counter, and hold a round, ripe grapefruit and smell it’s clean citrus scent, she smiled.  I gave her a taste from a small spoon, after she and I “blew it” to cool it off, and I was reminded of something.

While she stood on the kitchen floor, hearing the sounds of lids banging, water boiling, the chopping of onions, she couldn’t see any of it.  She could smell something that awakened her hunger, but she couldn’t dig in, she heard noises but she couldn’t identify their source.  From her line of vision, her viewpoint, her perspective, things were unclear, possibly a bit confusing, maybe even a little scary or unsettling at times.  Only when Nana picked her up and began explaining things, did it start to make sense.  At her age, and with her limited knowledge, things still aren’t 100% clear, but at least she got a glimpse.

Another spiritual lesson or reminder for me in the everyday things!  We can’t see the whole picture, yet the goodness God has prepared for us continues to unfold, but often from our perspective we can’t understand.  At times, our lines of vision are obstructed or clouded by unbelief.  Since His ways are not our ways, we can’t fathom His plan.

As we lean into the Father, tug on Him and say “up, up”, we begin to get at least a glimpse.  And because of His unconditional, passionate love toward us, even if we don’t understand 100%, we have peace in knowing we are in good hands.  The more we seek Him, the more we find Him.  The more we eat, the hungrier we become.

Let His word and His love change your perspective today.

The love in the No-nos

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As Nana instead of mama, I can get tickled when my almost two year old granddaughter is testing my daughter.  I have earned that right but I am wise enough to hide my laughter.  My cousin’s wife has termed it being “rascally” when she starts acting like a little stinker.  This usually happens when she is fighting sleep, but lately with the two’s looming in the near future, it happens more often.

She will go up to something she knows she isn’t allowed to touch and get her finger as close to it as she possibly can and look at you, studying your response.   There is a snowman dish that captivates her, but she knows she can only look at the “no-man”, not touch.   The other day, she touched it and took off running.

She is trying to see how far she can push before it’s too far.  What can I really get away with?  Will this really hurt me, or is mom just saying that?  What happens if I touch the forbidden?  She runs full speed ahead trying to taste, touch and see everything as fast as her little legs will carry her.  When she knows she has committed a “no-no”, she will swing those golden curls back, look at you and swat her own little behind, all with a smile on her face.

She knows exactly what she is doing, yet there is something in her that rebels.  She doesn’t always just listen and obey.  At times, she has to learn the hard way.

This morning, I was contemplating sin and temptations and how long suffering God is with us.  I am a firm believer that Jesus died for my sins, but I also believe when I committ them, I need to repent.  Daily I pray that God will search my heart and help me to live a holy, committed life for His glory.

I thought about my granddaughter’s behavior and it reminded me so much of us as God’s children.  Oh, how He loves us!

How often do we run through life anxious to see it all and do it all, and we wander too close to the things that God knows might cause us harm?  He warns us, yet sometimes we fail to heed the Father’s voice.  That seemingly harmless conversation we are being lured into might cause us pain later.  A still small voice whispers, “no-no” but we ignore the plea and carry on, like a toddler running with scissors.

Thankfully, when we fall, He is there to pick us up.  He willingly forgives the offense and loves the hurt away if we let Him.  If we are smart, for our part, we will repent and learn something and we don’t have to repeat that lesson over again. We aren’t toddlers trying to figure out who is in charge.  We do already know that God wants the best for us, and that His plan for us is perfect!  Why do we question that?  If He keeps something from us, it will always be for our benefit.  If He changes our direction, it’s to keep us on the best path.

His banner over me is love.  Maybe we can remember that the next time the spirit of God is dealing with us about something.  His no is always shrouded in love, just like ours are with our children.   It always means, I know a better way or I want a better outcome for you.  It means, I love you.  Trust that love.

 

Mitch Teemley

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