Monday, November 28, 2016

Lines from October, Part 2

Thank You for this lovely day. With Mom and Dad, with A, and at study.
You gave me courage, and protected us on the drive home from the train station, when I nearly got us T-boned by an SUV, making my left turn.
So humbling.

Jesus, show me how to seek You. Show me what life should be - this (deeper), dramatically different, or  ?
I do know that Your love is necessary. Please please give me more. In the nutty bolty, nits and grits. In all seasons. Be my savor. Please give me love for my work, especially the book. Surround me in story, in truth and beauty and goodness so real that I must depict it, irresistibly.
Wake me tonight if You like.
Bless tomorrow. Refresh us in each other's company. Use us to point each other to You, Jesus.

What a glorious day it's been with A. Good meals, conversation, beauty and activity and munching apples on the dam. Crunching leaves, basking in the day. Thank You for the chance to speak and hear each other, to encourage each other. I trimmed her hair. We watched the first hour of "Sweet Bean" and gave back massages.
And here I am, trying to sleep because I decided to drive in tomorrow. Thanks for reminding me, If I can't trust You, who/what can I trust? I can leave to You all the things I can't control about tomorrow. Make me ready to receive and respond.

Do grant me sweet rest and peace.
Prove Your presence in my heart again tonight.
Thank You for being so faithful. I worship You.

What a gracious day this has been.
I'm satisfied even if the ends are frayed, because You were faithful and generous and rewarded me for small nips of faith.

A and I talked long, finished our movie, listened to music, back massaged, and prayed. And we've been eating splendidly well: homemade pizza, pancakes and yogurt, omelets and salad, breaded turkey cutlets and roasted veggies, chocolate cupcakes, potato soup and salad and turkey and crackers and Vermont sharp cheddar, blueberry cobbler and lemonade.

Guide and protect and nourish tomorrow.
For peace and productivity and love.
For You and Your   s h w e e t    love.
Oh how do I have both for You? Your holy revered Name.

Lord Jesus,
Show me if there is anything standing between me and You. Help me turn from it. I would rather give up anything than forfeit closeness with You.

This was a love of a day. A rare fall day, windy & cloudy & bright, not bitter. Stories meeting. Photoshoot with H and S. Reading Flannery O'Connor on the back deck, wrapped in a red blanket.
Enjoying the freedom to rest. Happy Sabbath.

Goodnight, and happy watching.
(Since I know You'll be awake for the whole thing).
Thank You that there are brave people in this world, and that You are so bold.

This was the rammiest day of the fall, by far! Odd hours with You, caffeine, and sunshine gave me a good shove off the dock of the morning. Which I needed, for everything that followed. The rocky bottom of cramps, and a hole in my hull made by a four-figure car repair bill. Goodbye, savings. We're not capsized, but we're taking on water.
Enough of this boat stuff. I'm still cheerful, even refreshed by the blunt honesty of need. I need you. I do not have enough money for my living expenses. Not to both eat AND drive AND mail paintings. But right now, in miraculous balance, I am alive and well, and I can do without butter and bouillon for a week. I can run up a gas debt and still go to prayer meeting tomorrow. I can borrow from my MA savings and send my portrait north, in my place. I will survive.

You know, I'm rich. I have a car, and it's in working order (now). I have food, clothing, shelter, work, play, AND love (I sound like Brian Regan). And music - punchy as it was this morning: "The Merry Horn", "Misty", themes from "Babes in Toyland", not much mellowed by tonight (e.g. Danielson).

This feels like the summer, when I finally realized I COULD NOT do everything. I had to be ruthless, because saying yes to anything extra was a death sentence.
Here, in this new season and circumstance, I must say NO. No extras. I just can't. No buts. Only God has veto power, and He holds the checkbook.
I can throw a tantrum, sulk, and complain, or I can thank You and live this, fully accepting my limitations and even glorying in them. This, now - this is adventure. I can't wait to see what You will do (seriously).

Ha. You know? I actually do trust You when push comes to shove.
As Lord Peter Wimsey says,

Wednesday nights find me antsy these days. So many things to bring tomorrow, ha! There are just too many interesting things in the world, and not enough time to paint them.
I'm painting too carefully again. I'm pretty tired of the pieces I'm working on... but You're giving me love for them anyway. I'm calling it love, because that's what I'm asking You for. It feels more like persistence (which is probably what love does most of the time).

A few things. We had our first hard freeze last night, and the beautiful compound morning glories were a wilty mass this morning. Mom tore them down already. She also lengthened the table so as to have room to lay out K's quilt. The combination of a cleared deck and a large table makes meals feel alarmingly exposed.
Mom and Dad allowed me to join them on Part 1 of their date - a walk at Hibernia. It was good, but I found myself feeling sad and distracted. Wearing pants could have helped. I've discovered that my red winter coat + long skirt (esp. + hat) makes me look very young and dumpy, and I can't seem to banish self-consciousness when I'm dressed that way. I act out like a caged animal, and very silly.
We collected sassafras leaves. I found several but dropped my prettiest, a red one, which made me so disappointed that I DID feel very childish on the drive home. Like I'd lost a balloon or something.

The yeast I'd put in the challah was very old and weak. I opened "fresh" packets, showering the counter, and bemoaned my klutziness so much that Mom consoled me with matter-of-fact kindness and forbade me to beat myself up over little things.
Marvelous, what a Mom's consolation can do.
Finally the dough rose, and the bread emerged glossy and crackling and voluminous.
I drove a loaf to H, ate a tiny roll with Dad, and wrapped another for R. The last full loaf is for the Os, who inspired the endeavor.

Oh Lord, I'm not ready for this. I'm like Cinderella in the vestiges of a tattered gown, carefully planned out but thwarted. Show me how You can make simple things glorious, when given to you.
Thank You for giving A the opportunity to talk to J about You. Thank You that L and S are expecting. Thank You for soup, rest, and laughter and memories.

This is all passing so quickly away. Dreams remind me of feelings I forgot how to have. Take me with You tonight. Take me home in Your pocket.

"I remember now, I remember now, He loves me, He loves me."
- Danielson Famile

I've been wide awake the last hour, after sleeping ~4. Yesterday was a good, good day, perfectly punctuated by time with L.

I need Your help to pray for all the heaps of things that could crush me right now. But no. Last night, still early, at the catalpa and writing, was freedom again, and reminders of Your dispensations that I haven't felt in a while. So take me again, this morning, as I have a couple more hours in which I could sleep, paint, pray, write, just rest...
...this habit of Yours is a mercy, much as I sometimes bewail it.
Help me to do what is right.
Help me to trust only in Your righteousness, Christ Jesus.


This has been a lovely day. Thank You for this time with L, for the gift of seeing and being seen. Thrifting this morning, daytime apart, early evening shopping for food, and back at the hotel, eating like college students. Talking horses, music, life....

I'm just so hungry for You. To feel You between my teeth, or myself between Yours, that at this late sleep-deprived hour I'm inured to everything but You. Well, I like to think I am. Please burn Your words into me.

L should be close to home, now. What a joy it was to have her here. She gave me so many varied kinds of gifts. Trust and loyalty and love not the least of them. I want to give back. Help me rest in You in my inability to process all of life right now, or do justice to (let alone abundantly bless) my friends. But I can leave that to You.

A little scab from an ant bite is just now flaking from my foot. A relic of Georgia. What a lot of things, what a number of places You've brought me through in the last 6 months. Make me strong and steady. Help me trust You. Really trust You. Because You know I am still so tightly tied to what I can see and know and control, to my own wants and needs. But You've got my back.
I need this kind of clarity.
Protect me, keep me tender. I want to be the kind of woman who can match a real man. Help me lean into what is stretching me. And teach me, also, how to rest. Relax with You. Enjoy You. Meet me in these next few hours, and in our worship tonight.


Thank You for displaying Your terrible power tonight in that storm that blew through during worship practice. And thanks that we still managed to practice all the songs! Thank You for the fellowship in the gathering of believers, including these young people. It is so beautiful.
Thank You for keeping me safe.
For being    g  e  n  t  l  e   with me.
Please help me keep my word. "Give to me a stalwart heart, which no tribulation can overcome."

It's been two years since Mom and I shaved bald.
Today I subbed 4 classes, K2-6th. We drew and/or colored leaves. It was great, and an adventure, with everything falling into place at the last minute.

I used to feel elevated most of the time, gloriously immune to disaster. Sometimes I still feel that way - hedged by You. Breathless as the edge of danger, and sure (yet trying to be) that You will work everything out.
Give me faith.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lines from October, Part 1

I bought a car. A 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix. We worked out a reduced deal with 2 paintings thrown in.
Bless Your Name, Jesus.

Thank You also for hours of facepainting. 3 cats, a tiger, a bow, a football, a bluebird, 3 flocks of geese, a dozen woolly bears, pumpkins, candy corn, half-dozen apples, leaves. Something crazy like that. Like 60-80 paintings.
And pumpkins, three (real) pumpkins to take home. I didn't understand why You sent the rain earlier - why it became torrential just when I would have stopped at the farm. Now I see in part: You wanted to give me free pumpkins later. And even a tablecloth for painting class, of all things.
Oh, Lord.

"If anyone chooses to do my will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own."
-Jn 7:17 NIV

So special when You do things like this. Like prompt me to pray for people who need prayer (and I read their messages later).
Thanks for the small things You helped me do today. Show me Yourself.

It is a miracle, and I don't want to wait long to thank You and recount - Dad told me at breakfast that the trains are back to their old schedule (which happens to be very inconvenient for traveling to school). But now I have a car. I have a car just in time, and I had no idea. Your timing is impeccable.
You are full of perfect jokes.
Thank You.

This has been quite the weekend. It was rich and festial ;) and a feast of friends. Also a lot of practice driving around Lancaster and Columbia.
So, so dear to be with old college friends.

Today was the V's reception, and it was a blissful, windy, sunny, crisp day.
Somehow I'm full and drained at the same time. Refreshed - so refreshed!
But exhausted.
There are so many things I need You to teach me. Presence and intention, peace, graceful good humor, love.
"May it be to me as you have said."

This morning K preached on forgiving our enemies, giving the examples of Jan Huss and Christ. I was pretty sure I had no enemies... but as I think about it, there are people I avoid. That I even find myself wishing did not exist (at least in their current state), or did not have a claim on me.
People that I find it difficult to love.
Show me Your will. Be my first and last. Flow through me. Thank You for caring for me in all the circumstances of this weekend, in the love and hospitality of others, in skill You gave, in safety on the roads, in a working car, in beauty and fair weather. In meaningful connections. In Your Word.

I'm writing from the Infirmary at Camp. It's Thursday evening, my last day off from school until Thanksgiving. A gift of a day, because it gives me the flexibility to be here, although I'm missing some of my inventory #s and may have to come back again.
I'm planning to get up for a "prayer" hour for the second time, tonight. So I'll be heading to bed soon.
Squeeze me.
Please empower me for all these paintings, and give me peace, and care for me. Surround me on every side, as You have been doing. Sharpen my heart. Deepen my mind. Arouse my passion for You, my compassion for others.
Use me in spite of myself.
Feed me bite by bite on Yourself, from Your fingers.
Answer me. Help me to pray.

Thank You for being a friend to me. A true friend. I want to recount some of Your many gifts; I will forget otherwise:

A quiet morning to prepare for church. Wesley indicating "low break fluid" while still in the driveway, and Mom and Dad with a rental this weekend, which meant I could take the Buick to church. Bracing sermon on Tyndale and Your Word. A shared look and smile with K. A little time to catch up with B. C's hug. A note from L, delivered by hand from Australia by J.
The minor prophets. Music - at least a rough recording. Lots of leftovers to eat, including beets. Time to dance to Audrey Assad's "Inheritance".
These gentle moments in bed, by lamplight, with a full moon glowing outside.

Why am I given this, when so many people across the planet only endured today? And why am I still so slow to catch up to gratitude, and fearful for my life and future? I wonder if I'll be some stunted persimmon. Nothing in myself is reliable. You are my only comfort. But then, You only can be. You are more than enough. Baste me with the truth and bake me this whole night long.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Lines from September, Part 2

Caro Gesu,
This is better already, kneeling to be with You.
I am bitter, ill, and need You. I need You. Save me. I am not strong. I will only self-destruct, I cannot make anything true or lovely. This world is too loose, and too tight, all in the wrong places, it seems.

Open up to me. Put me in place, let me feel the whir of Your activity, around and in me. Humming and endless.
Help me wait - wait - for Your words to dissolve on my tongue.
They are not fast food.

Thanks for Mom coming in and not leaving right away, giving me a chance to speak, praying. Please help me not hide. Help me walk toward the light, even if it is nothing but a pinpoint.

John 14
Psalm 150
I made it back safely from my "11-11" day out. To the S's with H, to contra with the gang. I drove 110.9 miles. So nearly 111.
It was a pleasure to be with those folks. And back to contra after 9 months.

Lord, I want my dimes to go to Your work. I want my life to be at Your disposal, whole and in all its particulars. My car, when it comes. My time... ugh, my time! My energy, including my emotional and mental energy. My clothes and books. My body, my appearance, my food. All my paintings. I DO still think too much about my career, my "famous someday", my power and influence.

I really do want my attention to be focused at the heart of things. The things that last, that aren't things. You and Your Word, souls.
Thanks that Dad's class went so well. That he prayed for me in the car today.

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Jn. 10:10

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." Jn 10:27

"Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday.
Why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your friends?" SoS 1:7

I don't feel settled. I'm like a shell, wandering from room to room in search of something. Checking off my to-do list brings little sense of accomplishment. Even Your Word is like water by spoonfuls - I need a greater thirst, and I need it slaked.
Open me up to see what is right before me. Please give me love again. Humble me - I know that much of this is only difficult because I am in the way.
You are more important.
Jesus Christ.

Thanks for hemming me in, for stabilizing me tonight. We can do this. It will, in fact, be a glorious success. Just help me cling to You.
Love me tenderly and passionately. Stir up all my love for You. Only in this can the world see Your reality in me.

22. Sylvania, Georgia
So much in a day. This was a long, pleasant, peaceful day. Lots of time visiting with P, meeting others. J and E will probably have portraits made.
I strolled around the ponds today. It was delicious - balmy, breezy, lonely but homey at the same time. I found egrets, a heron, crows, and other birds. Fire ants found me. There were lovebugs floating in the air.
E got in ~8pm. She's in the other room tonight, since the trundle was too much work for us without Grandpop (who nodded off while she and I were talking).
P reminds me so much of M. Such a sweet and insightful woman. Kind, and strong. Intelligent. I wish I was painting her.

"Lord, it is good for (me) to be here. Let me build 1 shelter:
one for You."


Suddenly the time is flying! So little time left. Because tomorrow E and I go to Savannah to see Brother.
Today, again, was more clouds and sun than rain, which was wonderful. It gave us the chance to ride the golf cart, pick pecans, talk and explore.

We looked up genealogy, read "Hyperbole and a Half". I paced the driveway, praying and glorying in the sad longing perfection of the farm (leaping heaps of transitory beauty, present yet ungraspable). I read Alexander for a while as I paced, then cleared off a chair on the island and watched the pond. Turtles poked tiny triangle heads above the water.
E and I made salad and spaghetti for dinner, had sundaes watching "Notorious".

Another late night, but I'm glad for the evening. For Your patience with my feelings. Your perfect timing. Your way of keeping me dissatisfied with everything but You. Meet us here with the truth, which I need as much as ever tonight. I must go with You tomorrow. Keep bounding into my line of sight. Wink at me around corners, wag Your ears. Blow me kisses from passing cars and nudge me in the right direction. Bless me so that I can be a blessing, so that I can declare Your Name fearlessly, as I should. Out of the overflow of praise, no matter what ground still remains to be crossed. This may be a desert, but never let me forget how You parted the sea.

What kindness You have in You. I don't even know how. This should be tiring for You at this point, this patient steady giving of love in form after form after form - but I guess You like it. It all smacks of Your enjoyment. I love You. I love that I wanted to sing in the shower tonight. And that I feel more hopeful, like the bones rattled and shook. They may not have set themselves together, but they're making noise.

The time with E was lovely. Driving, and while we talked with Bro at Vic's on the River, and driving home, and walking around the plantation.
He met us, happy and welcoming, and it was good to see his place. A cat to love on. Two roommates. Confetti on the doorstep.
We three talked about all kinds of things. He and I wandered around Dick Blick, fingering markers and talking in that place of comfort and inspiration to us both.
He said he hears gunshots every week. He makes chicken and rice. He hopes to come home at Christmas.

Mmm, sleepy. To that dopey tired state wherein I keep myself up because I'm too tired to focus enough to progress to actual sleep.
Help me. Please show me how to be close to You. To love You and know You and see You and obey You and give You pleasure.
Please make tomorrow full of love, truth, seeing.

Sunday's ending. My last day here. It was a lovely, long, interesting morning. We took the afternoon slow, after our guests left. I took a long beauty walk.
We all rested. E left right after lunch, so I was pretty hermitty.
I'm trying not to be nervous about tomorrow, about having what I need to get my boarding pass, etc.
You are always kind to me, even when it feels like my world is shaking. You remind me You're there. Seek Your sheep. Use me in spite of myself. Increase my faith. Let me truly be a blessing! Be glorified. Show Your power.
Help us actually want this.

It's a gasping miracle, how You give us just enough.
Forgive me, I am full of violence and derision. "Raca" rattles in my temples and presses against my ribs. Show me blessing. Show me that it is not loopy handwriting on a DaySpring card, but power and action, lusty vital love, a life force.
I want that, not this contempt and negation.

I am getting old and dull. Help me play this hide-and-seek wholeheartedly, and kiss the leaves in the dewy dark and lift my arms and sing.

Thank You for Your hand over things today. Like the miraculous way I woke up to my 5:20 alarm sweetly tired, not bitterly so. Gentle, chilly rain. Leaving a love note for Mom. The train already parked. J and the twins cheerfully awaiting me. Enough time to set up. Smooth and enjoyable bookend classes. Catching the early train home. "Pilgrim's Regress". Dad taking me to the bank and to Wawa for free coffee. Pesto pasta for dinner. Prayer with Mom and Dad. A letter from Bestefar and some time to tie up loose ends. Yoga, and dancing at 11:11.
And bed.