My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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The Potential of a Spindly Twig

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As I gazed at the scrawny twig protruding out of a bucket of dirt, I had my doubts that it could even be a wisteria plant, it seemed to be a rather poor attempt of an imposter. And yet my friend who’s gifted green thumbs rival the Incredible Hulk’s in greenness, confirmed her purchase was the real deal. My hopes were high that the enduring trust my friend bestowed on me to tend to this plant would live up to its’ full potential. Awakening a memory of my mom’s friend Joan who was convinced her wisteria’s had the ability to grow rapidly overnight as she slept peacefully; a Jack in the Bean stalk of sorts.

 
With that promise of its’ future I planted it in faith and waited and watered and waited some more. For several years I watered that twig without much foreseeable future of greatness; while wisteria rambled in others gardens mine was stunted, forlorn and destined for piddly not prolific. Though I’m not sure when it happened, I do know why it happened, As I began to let go of how it was suppose to look, and when it was suppose to look like it. In the absence of my gawking, wee bit of obsessing and comparing it thrived. With quantum leaps and bounds a gift I was entrusted with grew in spite of me, growing by the grace of God to inspire me. Giving me a message as it now rambles along our fence, cascading fragrant blossoms over the beautiful arbor my husband built to support it.

 
The potential of the spindly twig is God’s promise to make all things beautiful in His time. Perhaps you are staring at a twig in your life longing for it to grow to It’s full God given destiny. Whether it is a personal area in your life, a loved one, or contending for your health. Whatever your twig represents God has the answer for its’ growth. His love and compassion will speak into its’ greatness that is now cleverly disguised as a barren shoot.
Lord, We thank you for your love for us that reaches to the heavens. Your tenderness to bend down to hear the faintest cries of weariness, grief or despair. You care about every detail of our lives whether they be big or seemingly insignificant in the worlds eyes. Thank you Lord for your yes and amen to all your promises.

 
And then God answered: “Write this.
Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
It’s on its way. It will come right on time. Habakkuk 2:2-3

Look at the backdrop our daughter in love chose for our Mother’s Day photo, unaware of the next story I had hoped to write . Another God moment too rich not to share .

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Emmanuel God With Us

 

 

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Life has an incredible reputation with its’ ability to take our breath away. Rolling hills, unlimited brooks that babble even more than an overly excited me and sunsets that can leave us speechless… a miracle in itself. Yet within the mingling of the majestic awes of life’s splendor, the ouches of this life can knock the wind out of our sails with one sharp jab to the gut. Taking time to catch our breath once again .
Bitter waltzing with sweet, highs soaring to distressing lows, at times finding myself scrabbling to recalibrate and steady my faiths’ equilibrium.
With all the dizzying and stressful challenges life can thrown our way, it is not out of the norm for me to utter, “God where are you?” more then a time or two. We have already established I like to talk.
And yet I also love to listen with bated breath when it comes to hearing God breathed truths addressing my doubts. His mercy blowing away lies that cloud my proper perspective into wisps of insignificance. Seeing His love for me in new and profound ways.
A couple of months ago I experienced ominous brooding clouds of doubt , only to watch God gloriously lift the foreboding billows to see Him in a whole new light.
This particular event involved our 15 1/2 year old dog Scooby who on one Friday morning vets visit was gravely diagnosed with advanced Lymphoma. That night and the next morning our grown children visited to say their final tearful good-byes. By the next evening he could barely walk as I took him to the car for his final solemn ride to the vet. We arrived 15 mins. early to check him in before my husband arrived from his work . As we made our way to the clinic door Scooby’s 63 lbs. frame lumbered and swayed even more with his burdening disease. Anxious to get him help as soon as possible my heart began breaking more with each labored step he took. Swinging the front door open so grateful to get help soon, only to find out they were not taking anymore patients that early evening due to no more beds, and a vet that had to leave early. Now heading back to the van, Scooby was staggered with greater intensity, hoisting him up and into the car I waited for Kevin to arrive. Leaving the side van door open while sitting with Scooby, tears streamed down my face, I felt so helpless, and alone. Suddenly, he threw up and collapsed in the back of the van my heart overwhelmed with sorrow and anxiety  . Thankfully, shortly after that Kevin arrived, his 5 min work delay felt like an eternity. While waiting  earlier I was able to call and find a nearby vet still open less than 2 minutes away, $120.00 more yet it did not matter. By the time we arrived Scooby could no longer walk and Kevin had to carry him in.
Overwhelming sadness merged with an outpouring of compassion from the staff brought us great comfort and relief. Once settled in the room the kind vet then sat on the floor with us as we held our beloved dog weeping. His tenderness and compassion was evident as his eyes welled with tears as we cried. Saying our final sorrowful goodbyes, and with heavy hearts we left toting only his blanket and collar, and now mere memories to sustain us. Feeling so grateful for the kindness, love and support from this clinic during our time of loss.
The following weeks after Scooby’s passing had me pondering why I felt so overwhelmed as I sat in the van waiting for help that day. Though my feelings were valid going through losing a pet, the more I reflected on those intense emotions it dawned on me that abandonment issues from past sexual abuses somehow got triggered. The fact I was surrounded by people yet feeling so alone and helpless in my time of need hit a raw emotional nerve.
Walking in a place of victory as you navigate brokenness takes courage to forge ahead to get to the place of healing, forgiveness and deeper levels of freedom God longs for us.
And though at times I get weary of trying to see God in all things, I’m confident it’s worth the pondering, searching and asking to get to the truth. God is looking and longing to be gracious to us every time, whether it be the first or the millionth time!
Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding. Isaiah 40:28

So how did God address my wrestling abandonment and trust issues?

Lovingly as always !
While I was still wrestling with grief and grappling with this abandonment trigger, Kevin and I received a thoughtful card of condolences from the Pet Medical team a couple weeks later. As we both read through and looked at all the signed names we could not believe our eyes when we spotted our vet’s last name. It was Emmanuel which means, “God with us”. We were blown away! It was such a hug to my heart from a Abba Father I’m learning to trust more each passing day.
What a precious reminder that God is always with us, never failing us, nor forsaking us, even when we feel alone and overwhelmed.
Perhaps like me your questioning where God was or is in your time of need.

From my heart to yours, may we continually see God working on our behalf in all things. Though you and I have felt alone at times, we are not. God enters our grief, weeps with us. His heartbreaking even greater then your own. He is with us every step of the way even when you cannot feel His presence at the time.
Emmanuel God is with us, What a beautiful name, What a glorious promise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I thank you most High God! You are breathtaking. Psalms 139:5 The Message


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You are Worthy

 

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As I searched the meat dept of our local grocery store for dinner inspiration my phone began to ring. Fumbling through my purse I was delighted to see it was our son Derek. While chatting and confirming a time for him to come over for dinner he asked my preference in sunglasses. This not so random question was due to his great designer sunglass finds while thrift store shopping;  he wanted to keep this  in mind while making his usual rounds before heading over for dinner. I happily explained my favorite look and thanked him for his thoughtfulness before ending our conversation. Wrapping up my shopping I pushed my squeaky cart towards check out, excitement twirling in my mind at what he might find. My husband and I have jokingly nicknamed him “Midas” for his uncanny golden touch of discoveries while thrifting even as a young boy .
Once home I wasted no time unpacking the groceries and starting dinner. Before you knew it both dogs were eagerly barking their usual greeting as Derek arrived. After hugs were exchanged and dogs calmed down to a dull roar Derek handed me a Sunglass Hut bag. Thanking him profusely for his thoughtfulness and  over the top generosity . Oohing and aahing at the pristine pair of sunglasses I was oblivious of their value, I’m rather uneducated in all things designer. So as we admired them, tried them on I was completely clueless of their worth. Slow on the uptake, until with Derek’s help my mind finally registered that these were bona fide designer sunglasses!

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Let me explain the significance of these glasses. Anyone who knows me is fully aware of my history with sunglasses. Sadly, I have a strong propensity to unintentionally destroy every pair of sunglasses I own. I have been known to sit on them, drop them in the toilet, lose one of the arms so I’m left with opera glasses. Or hurriedly cramming my purse into the storage provided before a ride started at Disney World. Only to pull out a mangled pair of shade after the ride was completed. My track record of demolishing sunglasses has carved out a deep well traveled path to the local Dollar Tree to purchase the vast majority of my eye wear protection. Less cost, less loss, for I surely cannot be trusted with more, with my less then stellar reputation.
And yet these new sunglasses are a beautiful picture of God’s grace. Our son trusted me even with my tarnished past with anything involving sunglasses. So to God offers us the free, liberating, unmerited favor of God where feelings of unworthiness, or past failure glare at us brighter then the noon day sun. God’s word promises us, * “Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift from above, it comes down from the Father of all (that gives ) light ,( in the shining of) Whom there can be no variation (rising or setting ) or shadow cast by His turning…”.
God’s love, His pure glorious light washing over our shortcomings, missteps and even our best intentions that sometimes can go oh so south.
His unwavering intentionality to see us come to our fullest potential. Not the frailties we grapple with today but rather the blood bought victories we can declare into our tomorrows. All because in Him we our loved, forgiven, and cheered into a new framework of seeing ourselves as Christ has seen us all along; as more than conquerors… always! We are also blessed to feel that expression of love with our family and friends that speak life into our dry bones of failure, disappointment or self doubt.
It’s a funny thing about these sunglasses I have been endowed with, I have learned to take exceptional care of them, not only because they have cost so much, but because I have been entrusted so much and that my friend is a game changer.

“And as You speak
A hundred billion failures disappear…”
Hillsong, “So Will I”

 


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The $3.00 Sacrifice

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As I ponder writing this story of sacrifice, my rudiment understanding and lack of hearty implementation seems under developed and puny at best; especially positioned side by side to scripture references pertaining to offering something precious and exceedingly weighty. My story though a juxtaposition still remains relevant to me as I flesh out a greater comprehension of how to flex my atrophied sacrificial muscles.

One is told a precursor to exercise is stretching to warm up before your workout. Consider this story my warm up exercise to greater opportunities to trust God and let go.
It all began with a Parade … Tis true somehow on my way to the outlet mall to get a short sleeved shirt for the unexpected warm weather at our annual Bible study beach retreat, my friend and I landed smack dab in the middle of the Lincoln City Homecoming parade. Somewhere between the fire truck and bus of waving High Schoolers we were ever so kindly ushered into the festivities with an open space to pull out into. I looked at my friend exclaiming, “Susy, we are in a parade let’s smile and wave ! Horns honking people cheering, Susy and I joined in with the locals waving and smiling at the town folks lined along the street to greet us. What a celebration even though at the time I did not even know what we were celebrating. That joyful parade escorted us right to the Outlet Mall as it merrily winded down Highway 101 to their final destination.

Entering the outlet mall we found a shop promoting a few $3.00 sale racks. First a parade and now this?, glory be! Flipping through the first sale rack a second time around, I spotted a shirt that made my heart sing, it was pink and white striped, nuff said except it had white pom pom balls dangling from it’s short sleeves. Be still my beating heart! Excitedly I brought my purchases to the cashier forgoing trying some on due to time constraints. Being in a parade can be rather time consuming.

Upon arriving at our rental home I showed a couple ladies the shirts I got, which at the time I thought unusual for me. As I pulled out my favorite top I said, “This one might not fit me, of which my dear friend Vicky said”, it might fit me, I’m short waisted, “it was a divine set up, her saying that was just as unusual as me showing her the shirt in the first place. A tug of war with my flesh began to ensue as a whimsical shirt hung in the balance. Lord, should I give her the shirt even if it fits me? But Lord I LOVE that shirt! The Lord lovingly brought me to the story of Abraham and Issac, Abraham willingly laid his son Issac, God’s promise on the altar as a sacrifice, knowing full well God would provide another sacrifice. When Abraham looked up he saw a ram with his horns caught in the thicket and Abraham was able to sacrifice the ram God provided instead. Small as it might be God was asking me to and let go and look up.  Just maybe I will find another one, regardless how it plays out it needs to cost me something or it’s not a true sacrifice. Truth is I love my dear friend Vicky exceedingly more then that shirt. That night I released my quirky shirt to a friend whose heart was hurting, heavy and sorely in need of something to put a smile on her face far more then I did. The joy of seeing her in that shirt as she worshiped the Lord playing her guitar and singing, made my heart sing profusely more then a $3.00 shirt could ever hope to. Letting go and letting God is a work out indeed, as I worked out my flesh that day feeling the burn, and it was worth every step of the way.

Today you may be facing a sacrifice that goes far beyond a cotton shirt, one that costs an emotional journey that at the present does not feel like a horn honking, hand waving celebratory event. Rest assured it will be, because God has a bigger, better, fly in the face of the world’s economy… a provision that leaves you in awe of His kindness and tender care. We never go wrong when we trust in Him for He clothes us in His righteousness and we are changed.

About clothing, turns out after returning home the same chain store in town had that one shirt left, yep! the identical pink and white striped shirt and just my size. Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too … even after you were in a parade.

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“Friendship consists of forgetting what one gives , and remembering what one receives”

Alexandre  Dumas


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Hook Line and Sink Her

 

 

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While growing up, every now and then our week-ends were filled with my dad’s impromptu visits to see friends or family.  Each spontaneous visit was always guaranteed to have rich interactions and loads of fun especially when my cousins were involved. One of dad’s memorable occasions led to an unscripted outing to Champoeg Park, situated at the south bank of the beautiful Willamette River.  My cousin Dori and I were full of giggles and anticipation, who wouldn’t be?  We were together and going to the river! a rather winning combination.  It never once crossed my mind I was unprepared without a pair of tennis shoes I normally wore to protect my feet against the riverbed’s sharp rocks.

Once we arrived, Dori and I wasted no time jumping into the cool refreshing water splashing and swimming with sheer delight, soaking up the rays of a serendipitous day.  Suddenly out of blue I was stopped in my tracks unable to swim any further.  Somehow quite unaware I had stepped onto a rusty fishing hook still attached to the line.  The line itself  was trapped  beneath a heavy rock preventing me from swimming away.  Grabbing my foot I carefully examined my big toe that now had a hook deeply embedded pulling at my flesh.  Not feeling courageous enough to remove it on my own I called out to my dad, who was on the shoreline.  He gallantly came to my rescue, skillfully removing the hook, meeting me at my point of need. What freedom to be instantly released from the troubling impediment that kept me from venturing beyond its’ narrowing limitations.
God is like that, coming to our rescue when we become entangled whether knowingly or unknowingly.  My life has had its’ fill of  hooks  where the enemy has gotten a toehold in some area of my life, hindering my freedom for kingdom mobility.  Whether my wrong thoughts, attitudes, holding on to unforgiveness too long or allowing fear to stop me in my tracks.

Each day I’m becoming increasingly more aware of my need to daily put on the *full armor of God, resisting the enemy’s goal:  “to hook, line and sink (her or him)”.  “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  John10:10Amp.  God’s desire is  to bring overflowing, unobstructed  life for His Kingdom purposes and our joy.  What an awesome truth we can stand on hook free!

Lord, thank you that your love is so full and complete.  That you care about every detail in our lives, even knowing the exact number of hairs on our head. Your love redeems and rescues us in every situation no matter how big or small.  Thank you for the freedom and victory that comes when we call upon your name and you respond with unrelenting  love and tenderness.

Footnote: * Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)

 


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An Absolute Peach

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Back in the day when I was a stay at home mom my mother loved taking our young boys and I on grand adventures. Piling into her small white Nissan Sentra with a bag of munchies we secured their car seats thoroughly  ready to roll out onto the highway. Whether it was the beach , the Dalles, Longview or local malls she loved to drive and we loved to go. Exploring beyond the four walls of our small apt. was always a welcome treat.

When a long day was done we pulled into the driveway with sleepy boys, tummies full and minds chock full of memories.  Grandma’s car interior usually revealed the aftermath of run away Teddy grahams and toys from our magical getaways.  Like clockwork before you could say road trip, Grammy’s car was cleaned out ready for another exciting adventure.

My heart was full to the brim of the countless, funny and precious memories from those splendid day trips. Packing two ladies with Lucille Ball tendencies into a compact car with young children was sure to produce some comedy gold!   Now, as I reflect in the rear view mirror of the past, time seemed to have hit the acceleration pedal fast forward.  Those once small boys now stand before us grown men with facial hair, deeper toned voices and maturity that floods my heart with unspeakable love and gratitude.  And knowing my mom is cheering from heaven… her most glorious trip ever is a comfort.

From time to time those memories flutter into my mind, settling in on the stillness of our empty nest, bringing a smile to my face; a gift of extravagant love in our sometimes messy, broken fumbling places.  Love that shouts louder than failures past or present, allowing room for deeper, richer, wholeness for me and my family. Learning to navigate on the express way of grace and forgiveness.
I recently recalled one of those delightful memories of our impromptu trip to the Lloyd Center mall one fall afternoon.  The boys sat peacefully on the trip paying little mind to the scenery, perfectly content with this short excursion. All was quiet on the home front until we rounded the bend exposing very familiar surroundings. Our youngest Trent popped up from his car seat exclaiming with great delight, “Grandma your a peach an absolute peach!!”  Coining this winsome phrase from a recently watched Mr. Magoo cartoon.  My mom was beyond tickled hoping to always be able to recall this adorable accolade.

Though years later dementia robbed her of all precious memories, she was able to recount this story numerous times before its’ onset.

My mom was not alone in her aptitude for adventure.
Winnie the Pooh knows a thing or two about adventures when he said to Piglet, “As soon as I saw you I knew a grand adventure was about to happen.”
God thinks the same thing about us in Psalms 139:16, “His eyes saw our unformed substance and in your book all our days of my life were written before ever they took shape.”

The same God that spoke the world into existence, who tenderly formed you in your mothers womb, has the grandest adventure waiting for you just around the corner. We get the joy and privilege to partner with Him calling dibs to ride shot gun with Jesus and the Holy Spirit for the ultimate ride of our lives.
Plus, He has already made provisions for our journey mapped out in 1 Corinthians 1:7–9 *paraphrased:

Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale.  And not only that, but God Himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus.  God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.”
Wow ! if that is not music to my ears… a now recovering performance junkie. Don’t you love that just when you think that’s it, like a never ending infomercial of, “but wait there’s more” of God’s awesomeness which never stops period!

I don’t know what road your traveling today, you could be cruising down the highway of life tunes cranked and feeling carefree.  Or perhaps your road is lined with deep pot holes of disappointment and despair.  You keep looking for a sign of hope that will detour you from your present daunting circumstances.  Your faith feeling not so peachy unless your only counting the pit’s.

My friend I pray that today you would encounter God in a new fresh way, as He makes your rough road smooth, and the monotonous scenery explode with life and new found possibilities.
I love what Sara Young wrote, *”Though the path is difficult and the scenery dull at the moment, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend. Stay on the path I have selected for you. It is truly the path of life.”

As you stay the course God has mapped out for you, in due season I’m confident you  will be declaring to God with great joy, “Your a peach an absolute peach!”
*”A grand adventure is about to begin” Are you ready for it?

*Jesus Calling by Sarah Young  * Winnie the Pooh


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A New Spring Wardrobe

 

 

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From time to time I could richly benefit from the wisdom of Fashionistas Stacy London and Clinton Kelly from the cast of ” What not to wear “; a by product of my fashion sensibility clashing with the love of all things plaid, floral or striped. My wackadoo wardrobe is not for the faint of heart, and from all appearances, looks like the 1960’s vibrant patterns meeting the “Total Blender”. Thus, having me scratching my head whenever I throw up the doors of my closet to pick from my ensemble… asking myself the famous Blendec’s infomercial’s question, “Will it blend “?. Since no fashion consultant is at my disposal, could someone at least invent adult Garaniamals? This gal needs aid in coordinating the collection of wildly patterned garments I have such a hankering for.
However, when I stop to think beyond my dizzying array of earthly garments, turning my attention instead to the spiritual aspect of clothing far above the storm of whirlwind patterns that fill my closet. To compassionate Jesus who peacefully suggests that my, “What not to wear” are the restrictive grave clothes that have wrapped around my soul and mind keeping me in bondage.
Similar to the drab binding grave clothes that wrapped Lazarus of Bethany while he laid dead in a cave for 4 days, far beyond the appearance of all hope. Though laid to rest as a beloved friend to Jesus, Jesus still purposely delayed His trip to see him while languishing in his illness; all this for the greater good of a divine hidden purpose. Temporarily shrouded in a cloak of mystery as the sisters Mary and Martha, had their faith deeply shaken in the earthquake of whys? Onlookers too grappled with the grieving sisters raw unanswered question of Jesus’ absence in a time of such need. What was the delay for? It was certainly not for denial instead Jesus told his disciples,”*it will help you to believe (to trust and rely on Me). *Jesus later goes to comfort his perplexed sister Martha, “Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?.”
Seeing the glory of God in our grief, abuse, loss, or the appearance of abandonment in Lazarus’ case, takes an abiding trust that God works out all things for good. Many times trust is hard to come by for some of us that have had their trust severely broken. An inability to trust God or people becomes a death sentence for abundant life. Each lie adding another strip of cheap grave cloth binding us while blocking the truth. Redeemer Jesus knows a thing or two about speaking life into our dead places.
Showing himself faithful where human brokenness is. Encouraging us to keep our eyes on Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Just as Jesus asked those at the tomb to unbind Lazarus grave cloths after He commanded him to rise. He lovingly encourages others to come along side of us to help, “Loose us and let us go”. Their courageous intentional acts of love push past the smell of a decaying life that bound us in the first place. Bringing the captive free and those He has set free our free indeed.
I’ll never be able to fully describe the profound gratefulness I possess for the love of my family , friends and caring professionals that having graciously unwrapped the stench of my sexual abuse and brokenness . A gut wrenching heartache entrenching every fiber of my soul making the battle feel insurmountable. Through their love, grace, and patience, God was able to restore me to greater wholeness and freedom I never deemed possible.
It rings so true what Paul Young the author of the Shack wrote, “I suppose that since most of our hurts come through relationships so will our healing, and I know that grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside”.
God is calling us to a new free flowing life, releasing us from restrictions that impeded our God given destiny. Grave clothes that bound you can now be removed and replaced with robes of righteousness.
And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
“I will sing for joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my soul!
He dressed me up in a suit of salvation, he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara.
For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers, and as a garden cascades with blossoms,
So the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom and puts praise on display before the nations”. Isaiah 61:10-11
Are you ready for a new Spring wardrobe? I know I am and I’m pretty confident mine will involve some cheery mismatched pattern. How delightful !