Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Figures of the True

    This afternoon I looked outside of my bedroom window and though it was still daylight, I could see the moon clearly in the sky. It's interesting how you can see the moon so clearly some days while others days she stays hidden until the sun has set. On most days, the sky must be dark before the moon can be coaxed out into the open to grace the evening.

    I felt there must be something that could be learned in observing this simple daylight moon, because in my experience, God has used nature, the skies, animals, relationships, seasons, science, art, music... all of these things, and so many more, to teach me, to cause me to sit up straight and pay attention, because they are all strands and loops of a giant, brilliant tapestry of grace.

    The moon and the stars are like God in this way: You might not always see them, but you know they are always there. Amy Carmichael used to call these types of comparisons "figures of the true," these metaphors from nature that speak to the majesty and attributes of God. All around us, everywhere we look, are reminders of who He is.

    Friday, April 8, 2016

    Prophetic Paint on Blank Canvases

    A couple of weeks ago, I called up and asked my dear friend Antonio to paint the vision I had in my mind. I explained to him that it was a swirling around of the concepts of hope and manna. God has me camped out on these two words, and what they represent in my life right now. Let's just say I am paying extra special attention to discovering the reality of these two things as they occur in my life.

    Anchors, traditionally speaking, are symbols of hope. So, I explained that  I wanted there to be manna (a concept of daily gathering and trusting God for provision for all our daily needs) and hope, in this painting.

    This is the beauty that came from that amazing conversation.

    I can't wait to hang in in my bedroom, where I see it first thing every morning, as a reminder for me of the truth captured on that canvas in acrylic paint.

    Antonio told me that he felt impressed to paint me leaving the manna and entering the Promised Land, where my ultimate Hope, Jesus, is. So much for me to think about. Powerful images.

    Anyway, I just thought I'd share that here.

    ~Amy

    Thursday, March 10, 2016

    It Is Well

    I've been focusing a lot on two words since the beginning of 2016: Hope and Manna.

    Both of these things are precious, and both of them have to be gathered daily. Whatever amount of hope or manna you have for today, it won't sustain you tomorrow. Tomorrow you'll need new hope and new manna.

    Both come directly from God. He loves us and provides for us and fortifies our bodies and souls with good things.

    Neither of these things come naturally but making a habit of cultivating both will dramatically change your life.

    I am anticipating one more "word" from God before the year is done. I'm not certain why, but I have a deeply felt impression that this will be so. I'm keeping my eyes and heart open, and trying to develop a quiet spirit within myself, so that I may hear when He speaks.

    That's really all for now. I have a stack of books I want to get read and a bookshelf I need to reorganize and a vet appointment this afternoon for our Phoebe. Lots going on. And I've been dealing with a good bit of pain, but honestly- really and truly- it is well with my soul.

    It is well.

    ~Amy

    Thursday, December 10, 2015

    Moving Forward, Honoring the Past

    I don't like talking on the phone. At all. I mean, I do it if I have to; I can schedule appointments and I manage to answer if it's my mom or dad- mostly... But in general, I despair over phone calls and wish people would learn how to text instead. That's what phones are FOR, in my opinion.

    So it is a small miracle that I have friends like myself, who hate phones, and yet, we can talk to each other just fine. I got a text message from a new{ish} friend I called yesterday to ask for advice. It seemed easier to call than try to text the whole debacle, so I called. Today, she sent me a text message telling me that even though she hates talking on the phone, she felt completely comfortable talking to me, like she had known me for years.

    This made me think, because it is the same way for my bestie, Cara. She also hates phones, but we have had phone calls that were hours long.

    She also reminded me today that one time we went shopping in the mall so I could buy this lovely candle that Cara had in her home and I adored... and how this girl that worked there sort of followed me around, telling me her life story. I was able to ask her about her beliefs and she opened up about all kinds of things, and I don't even know her! {Cara ran away and hid, avoiding eye contact. She can never be my wing man because she would never rescue me.} Hahaha.

    I hope this doesn't come out conceited at all, because that is truly not how I mean it- but I wonder if this is a gift from God, meant to be used for His glory. The truth is, I am rather awkward socially, and while I try to be kind and show I care, I sometimes come across as pushy, or difficult, or "intense." Which of course makes me the opposite of easy to talk to.

    I have been praying for about a year that God would help me to develop gentleness of heart. I hope what I am seeing is the first fruits. I can occasionally be a bit curmudgeonly. But kindness goes a long way and gentleness is a rare gem in a world that is abrasive, harsh and loud. I used to think I needed to be the loudest voice to be heard, but I am learning that lowering my voice and keeping it steady has a gentling, calming effect, sometimes on an entire group, that I was heretofore unaware of.

    I am so far from what I wish I was. I feel deeply sorry for times I have been angry, difficult, frustrated and frustrating to others. I attended a small bible study group over the past year or so and went through so many challenges to my health that it made me really struggle spiritually, and I think sometimes, I really frustrated the group. I dominated the discussion time and kept turning everything back to me. I see this in hindsight. At the time I was just hurt and angry. I didn't understand what God was doing, letting me be so sick that I was struggling to do basic self care.

    I wish those people could know how terribly sorry I am for all that. For all the times I spoke without thinking. I feel bad about it, but I feel the best way I can honor them {and God} is to change the way I approach conversation. So it is encouraging to me that there are people who are finding me a safe place to come to to share their hearts and lives. That is a blessing.

    It also never occurred to me that while I wasn't in a bad place, meeting with and worshiping with these precious folks, I may have been in the wrong place for me. I am now on a new journey, still seeking God, but in different ways. I wish every one of those people the very best. I learned so much from all of them, even when it wasn't pretty.


    Monday, November 2, 2015

    The stuff I'm made of

    Halloween was a lot of fun for my family. My oldest son, Andrew, is dating a sweet girl named Amanda, and she is an amazing make-up artist, so she did all of our make up and transformed us into a family of zombies.
    It was the first time we have taken them trick-or-treating since Andrew was about 3. My kids had a blast. Even our tiny Ella Grace was thrilled to get FREE CANDY from perfect strangers.

    And while I loved it, I admit, I felt a tiny twinge. I've been recoiling a bit from all the blood and gore and violence so constantly bombarding us on television. It hurts me. I feel bad that my kiddos have been subjected to so much of it. At the same time, I know this was make believe and only for one night, and I don't want to be the kind of parent that responds from a place of fear. I just want to shine a light on dark things.

    So, I'm not sure how to feel. I am definitely conflicted about this.

    I have prayed many times for God to make me sensitive, and I am guessing this is one of the ways that prayer has become manifest. I am going to choose to use it as an opportunity to talk to my kiddos about it.

    I don't mean for this post to be a downer, it's just where I am. I know all this sensitivity stuff is part of the unique spiritual DNA I have received from my Father and I know I am supposed to weave this strand of goodness into my parenting, into my marriage, into my friendships. I am not going to shush it up, I am going to present it with gentleness and for the beautiful thing it can be.

    I believe that while at one time I considered my sensitivity to be an enormous burden, now I realize that it is a gift, and it is meant to be unwrapped with wonder. So maybe this whole experience has been good for me, because it was the perfect backdrop for me to ponder all these things in a somewhat controlled setting, and it's given me new, creative wonder to go forth and spread all around. Especially on my family. It's part of how I love with the tenderest parts of my soul.

    In other news, I have ALMOST completed my book challenge for the year. I think I have 3 or 4 books left. I can totally do this. So far, of all the books I have read this year, Bandersnatch, by Erika Morrison, was the most life changing for me. I highly recommend it and I'd love to discuss it with y'all if you do. It's really magical stuff.

    And being November, I am participating in #31daysofgratitude. I usually post my snippets of gratefulness over on Facebook, but I'll share today's here:

    Today, I am grateful for tiny little piggies to paint pink. Ella Grace is a pistol, but she is also adorable. #31daysofgratitude
    #day2

    I have a good, good life.

    What are YOU grateful for today? Jump in, wherever you are!!

    ~Amy




    Monday, September 28, 2015

    Bravery and Unleashing the Real Deal

    I find it terribly ironic that while I have tried valiantly over the past four years NOT to allow myself to become the disease I have, I have more or less defined myself by exactly these parameters. I think in terms of how I will feel physically in any given situation, possible adventure, or any outing whatever. I have lost a good large chunk of who I am to what I have.

    As a result, and I know this sounds ludicrous, but it's as if I have forgotten the things I love, and stopped being the curious person I am; I have stopped pursuing hobbies; love affairs with photography and globs of paint smeared over blank canvases, waiting to become whatever is in my heart right in that very serendipitous moment. My writing- here, in this space, short stories I have never published, poetry and research... I have even stopped writing my customary lists, so that when I jump in with both feet and all my crazy curly hair, I have something to guide me on to the next thing.

    I've stopped enjoying, relishing and adoring a hot bath with yummy bath salts and essential oils and instead have taken them dutifully, trying to reduce my swelling. I've stopped chewing my food slowly and thoughtfully; really paying attention to the flavor, the texture, the joy of a wholesome, well-prepared meal.

    I am almost debilitatingly introverted, but my tendency to stop encouraging myself to venture out, to keep those coffee dates, to invest in and learn about new people with all their special, intriguing idiosyncrasies, well... It's beginning to look and feel like I'm shut in, cloistered from the real world. Intuitively, I know this is not the best way for me to continue. But I have been afraid.

    I think that for so long, I have used wit and sarcasm and confrontation as tools to protect myself. I have not ventured far into the world of peace, of gentleness, grace, and kindness because I am afraid of being overrun, being taken advantage of or ignored. Is it really okay, at thirty six years of age, to have a temperament overhaul?

    Okay or not, that's where I think I am headed. It's as if I've stopped wringing my hands, and I've stopped balling them into angry fists; I've stopped holding them out to keep people at tolerable distances away from me... I've dropped them, relaxed them... And then I have taken my own hand and led myself to this new place. I am holding my own hand and walking gently; softly, yet determinedly in a whole new direction. Inside, down deep, I am a sensitive, kind person. I want to encourage that part of me to emerge. I want to be brave.

    I may not be able to run a marathon, but I could probably walk one, and why shouldn't I, if I'm so inclined? I was recently overtaken with a wild notion that I would love to go kayaking. It looks positively lovely. If Trever and I can golf together, I see no reason we couldn't kayak as well. I've begun reading fiction. I've always leaned toward non-fiction, though I am unsure why. Now, I want to discover something new and different. I want to continue my search for truth, but in new places. Well-written fiction can drop a revelatory bomb, and I want to be there, at ground zero. I want to be brave.

    I want to buy recycling bins and do what I know is right even though it is not required in my state. I want to do my own little social experiment about one girl's journey to using less. I want to burn more candles and find quiet places whenever I can and make myself just absorb it instead of ever feeling I must fill it. I want to learn about new ways to love others; I want my relationships to grow in all the best ways, me growing in my perception of how others receive love best, even when it is not the easiest or most comfortable way for me to show it. I want to be brave.

    I want to get memberships to the museums and renew my library card; I want to learn French and braille and American Sign Language. I want to study the skies; books stacked along my windowsills with manuals on astronomy; I want to identify constellations and know the lore behind them. I want to save my pennies until I can afford a really good telescope and then I want to spend more time out at night than every before. ;)

    I want to look every single one of my children in the face and smile, every day. I want them to know that they make me happy; that I look at them and instantly feel love and joy.

    I want to research and study and investigate this disease I have, and I want to be prepared when I go to my appointments to give accurate updates on my medications, my progress, and to ask good questions. I don't want to loathe spending time in a doctor's office, to feel on the precipice of despair, to exit overwhelmed with a feeling of defeat and a sad recognition that my life will likely not change.

    To choose to believe I can (and will) still live a life of joy, of love, and of hope just might be the biggest act of bravery I can exercise.

    I do believe. I am a brave girl.

    I am unleashing the curious, studious, research-nerd; the soft spoken, gentle and kind; adventurous and courageous version of me. It's the me I have decided I want to be.

    Here goes nothing.

    Yours most TRULY,
    Amy

    Tuesday, September 22, 2015

    Guest Posts

    The greatly talented, gentle, kind-loving and luminous Patricia Hunter from Pollywog Creek has asked me to write a guest post on her new(ish) website, Encou{RA}ge. It is a lovely blog meant to bring encouragement to those with invisible diseases, like RA. Please check it out. You won't be sorry.

    My post is HERE.

    Please subscribe, like, comment and share.

    Much love from the fight,
    Amy Smith

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