Descent

Oh, let the wind blow cried the little leaf

While I hold on tight to this big oak tree

It’s not quite my time to make the journey down

Not until another hue of color I see

I’ll hang here and listen to the wind in the trees

And enjoy the crispness of an autumn breeze

But it’s not quite time to make my journey down

A little yellow like the others hanging close to me

Feeling like a pumpkin with this orangey glow

My grip a little looser as the days go by

It’s still not time to make my journey down

But I’m feeling pretty certain that soon I’ll fly

Flaming red and gorgeous although feeling old

Folks are smiling with delight as they gaze at me

Thinking more about making my journey down

This red is the highlight of my life, you see

Turning brown and crunchy with not much strength left

Leaves are dry and branches barren all around

Letting go with the next big gust of wind I feel

Soaring, gliding to an unknown destination on the ground

Misguided persistence

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“Stop nagging!” We have all heard it and we have may have said it to someone else. If you look in Webster, the definition is “persistently annoying or finding fault with someone”.

When I think about nagging, I am reminded of summer evenings, sitting outside trying to relax while being persistently and relentlessly pursed by a gnat. It buzzes around your face, your ears and nose, awaiting an opportunity to settle in and bite. It is this incessant, relentless pursuit that sends you running for the house or bug spray. You will do whatever it takes to make it stop.

That is exactly how I have found myself behaving with certain family members at times. They won’t sit still and just do what I want, what I think is best, so I continue with the constant buzzing, thinking I will get a different result. Meanwhile, my victim wants to shoo me away, to render me speechless or probably even smack me at times. When they think they have peace, there I am again. There is a reason the book of Proverbs says, “it’s better to live in a corner of a housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife”.

I used to plan a big long perfect tailored speech, assured that if I could just get my victim to sit still long enough, they would finally get it! They would finally open their eyes to the truth I was so anxious for them to discover. Now, might be a good time to clarify that I am not talking about teaching your children wrong or right, or lovingly steering them in the right direction. I’m not even talking about a good discussion with your spouse. Remember the definition for nagging is annoying and finding fault.

The constant nagging wears people down. It never results in good. You never figure out just the right way to verbalize things to get your way. You ultimately do more damage with your words, especially when they accuse and find fault. Remember, it’s just annoying buzzing. Eventually, they will learn to run and hide.

I believe that God looks at the heart. For example, say that I am firmly convinced that my child should do something because I think it’s in their best interest. And say that I am right in this case, because I’m not always. What if she does it for me, but only for me. That’s nice and it feels good for the moment but has her heart changed on the matter? If her heart hasn’t changed, will it last? If she hasn’t received the conviction for herself, in her spirit, she won’t be doing it because its something she believes in. So, in turn it doesn’t feel genuine, because it isn’t. I might feel good, but she doesn’t because she is betraying her heart. She may be wrong, but until she realizes it, it doesn’t matter.

I have learned the hard way that I get more flies with honey. If I just go about the business of loving my family members, like Jesus does (unconditionally), and pray for them, eventually things work out and never the way I would have done it.

What if I did win? What if my nagging paid off? Then I would feel worthy of the credit. I did it, I fixed her. But, the glory belongs to God and He will have it.

So, the more quickly we learn to surrender outcomes to the One who truly knows best, the easier it will be for us to relinquish our delusions of having control. When someone you love makes a choice for themselves or because God touched their heart about something, a genuine change occurs. This is between them and God. We all have to learn most things and certainly some of the most important ones for ourselves. If we truly believe how much God loves us and ours, we can find the faith to believe in a good outcome while we are waiting.


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

It really will be okay

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Sometimes I forget that spring is coming.  Everything seems dry and dead and there is barely any color.  Locked in the bathroom, asking God why, I wonder if He really heard all of those silent, heartbroken pleas, the soulful dew faced prayers and the loud proclamations made, while pacing back and forth, my confident steps seemingly pounding the glorious truths out on the ground beneath me.   I prayed, I believed, I proclaimed, I professed but alas, the outcome was not as I expected.

For a moment, I am lost in self pity, it almost feels good.  Don’t I deserve it?  The flesh pleasing state of ME?  I realize my plan might not have been the best after all, I may have misunderstood God’s intended effect.  I feel hurt, forgotten and blind-sighted.  I could give in to this darkness, the cloak of heaviness the enemy is more than happy to shroud me in. I have been here before though and I know that choice leads me nowhere.

So, I take a deep breath and utter with the weakest trembling voice, “nevertheless, You are still God”. That profession alone awakens and revives that faith that I knew I had and suddenly, the day doesn’t seem quite so dark and dreary.  I let the truth of those words, sink in and suddenly I’m eager to escape my place of refuge and run toward the light.  A spirit fed river begins to course through me, leaving peace in every dark and shadowy place.  Like someone emerging from under the raging sea, gasping, I take a big gulp of redeemed life and am gently reminded in Whom I believe.

I open the door, walk out with strength in my step, a profession of life on my tongue and hope in my heart.  God still reigns.  Through all the turmoil, trials and tragedy of this earthly walk, He has been with me and brought me through every single time and He will again and again.  Victorious living, one day at a time.  He has already provided anything I really need.

I know that even if everything turned out according to my short-sighted, selfish plans, there would still be times like this.  There would still be days of loss and sadness, days of oppression, days when I need to do like David did and strengthen myself in the Lord.  I remind myself that His ways and His thoughts are higher than mine.  He can see so much more than I and so much farther into the future.  How arrogant of me to even presume for a moment that I can figure it all out?

This side of heaven, there will be trouble but the load is so much lighter if we let Him help us carry it.

Spring is on it’s way, it’s always right around the corner.  Will life be perfect?  No.  I won’t bury my head in the sand and pretend like it is or smile when I just can’t.  But deep inside, there is a peace that passes all understanding.  This peace reminds me of a time when I didn’t have it and that alone is cause for rejoicing.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away.” And the One seated on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Rev 21:4-5

 

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

Itsy bitsy what?

When my friend Dawn sent me a video of this beautiful web and told me maybe I could write a blog, I am sure this is not what she was thinking about. However, this little poem just came to me today and I had to capture it.

Across the wall above it skims

Propelled by tiny hairy limbs

No sound is made on its arrival

This might increase chance of survival

For there are some who quake with fear

To even think one may be near

Oh, just the thought of that fuzzy body

Even though it’s short and squatty

Will fill a person up with dread

As visions of horror go round’ in their head

Beady eyes peer from the web that it hangs

Waiting to chomp with it’s venomous fangs

Wrapping it’s dinner in gray silken ribbon

Backing up into the corner it’s hidden

But if in the night something skitters about

You’ll have visions of spiders of that there’s no doubt.

Peace, peace wonderful peace

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You know how some moments just stay with you, all of your days?  You couldn’t erase them from your memory, even if you tried?  I remember one of those days.  It started as a visit from a friend, who I’m sure was concerned about my well being after the recent loss of my mom.  I don’t remember all of the details but I know God had His hand in it.

On the outside, I was a wife and mother doing my best to serve my little family well.  On the inside, I was a wreck.  I hadn’t seen or even smelled anything that resembled peace in a very long time.  As much as I loved my little family, I felt as if a part of me had died with my mom, who left us at the tender age of 49 due to infection after a liver transplant.  She left me, her eldest, 8 months pregnant and struggling to make sense of a life without her.  Honestly, the thought of continuing to live without her, didn’t seem possible.

For the most part, I could hide my grief.  My husband saw the really ugly days and held me as I was falling apart.  He understood better than many, as he’d experienced great loss himself.  Friends and family were supportive and said and did all the things they truly thought would help.  But, like I said, on the inside the battle was raging and few knew how bad it could get on some days.

Mom was my best friend, the person I spoke to every single day, the person I shared everything with.  She had been an excellent mother from day one, but you don’t learn to have the deep appreciation until you are older and you don’t really understand some of what motherhood means until you have your own children.  She advised on any and every problem without judgment, she was my biggest fan and Nana to my daughter.  She had felt the movement of the grandchild she would never hold as she moved her hands across my swollen belly and spoke words of tenderness as she lay in the hospital bed.

Once she was gone, I threw myself into the role of “the strong one”, but I didn’t realize that I could only do that for so long, that sooner or later I had to deal with it.  I waited until after the baby was born, agonizing through labor without her by my side; I waited until I stopped nursing so the stress wouldn’t affect my little princess.  Then, I shoved the pain inside and watched helplessly as it reared it’s ugly head touching my family through my lack of patience, my loss of desire for living and a dark depression which had settled over me.

But on that day I mentioned, sitting on my old green couch, I uttered words that began a chain of events that would change everything.  As I was talking to my friend, I merely said, “I think I need to go see someone.  I can’t do this anymore.”

I don’t remember when I saw her again or if it was by telephone but not too much time passed before we spoke again.  She uttered the words that spoke to me somewhere down deep and my soul raised a frail and weary hand to identify with them.

She said, “I was telling mom what you said the other day about needing to talk to someone.  Mom said that you already know Who you need to talk to.”   Now, it goes without saying that my friend and I knew she meant I needed to take my troubles to the Lord.  There was no explanation needed for 2 girls who had grown up on the little white church on the island.   I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but those words started a fire somewhere deep inside of me.

They were simple words, brief and to the point, but I am so glad they were spoken and then shared with me.  (Sometimes you will never know the effect your words can have on someone or how God will use you in mysterious ways to bring about change)  Those few words weighed heavily on my heart and mind for days.  I couldn’t shake them, couldn’t forget them and couldn’t ignore them.

In retrospect, I realize that people were praying for me.  At the time, even though they would say, “I’m so sorry, honey, I’m praying for you”, it didn’t resonate with me, didn’t even bring me comfort.  It didn’t register in my spirit or maybe I was too angry at God for taking her to listen with my heart.  I’m not 100% sure, but I know now that God had a plan and that in the depths of my grief and despair, at a time when I was far away from Him, He loved me.  He saw me, He saw my pain and He reached out to me.

A few days later, I found myself on my knees beside my bed pouring out my heart along with what seemed like buckets of tears.  On that day, I finally surrendered.  I gave everything to Him and I made a decision to turn away from all of the wrong, negative thoughts and turn to His Word and His council.  I decided to to choose Him first and foremost.  My heart was filled with a peace that I still do not understand.  When I got up from that floor, my life was changed.

To this day when people ask me to name something I gained from my relationship with Jesus, the first word that comes to mind is peace.  I hadn’t had any peace for so long; it was such a welcome balm.  There are so many who long for peace and look for it in all the wrong places.

Do I still miss my Mother?  Of course.  But, I can honestly tell you that my grief doesn’t control me anymore.  My earthly flesh will always miss her and feel a pang of hurt when holidays come or events occur that I would love to share with her.  But, Mom is with Jesus and it brings me comfort to think that maybe she had something to do with my outcome, even if it was just her prayers.  She always wanted her children to serve God and voiced that again near the end.

There is a Way to peace and He waits with open arms.  Run to those arms and find yours.

John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

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

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