My Sentimental Journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God


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Entwined Hearts

Recently it dawned on me, jokingly calling the word “wait” a four letter word was not a good idea. Though there have been times in my life when waiting felt like a long prison sentence with no hope of parole nor even a visitor called Joy. It’s root cause was fostered by my lack of trust and complete confidence in God’s faithfulness. Not only that, my thoughts were skipping the biblical principles of rejoicing in the Lord always as Philippians 4:1-9 encourages us to do so… this didn’t help matters. My notions of God’s truths in regards to waiting was conceived, birthed and nursed on lies. This false narrative continued to grow out of a lack of trust in God’s goodness. Doubt became the framework of my wobbly emotional structure, which proved insufficient building materials to fully lean on God’s goodness in my times of waiting. Removing the core nature of God’s faithfulness out of the equation of waiting, choosing to be dictated by feelings over our faith will fail any faith building inspection.

I’m reminded of Peter’s bold steps to walk on water as Jesus bid him, only to suddenly let his fear and doubt not only stop him in his water tracks but sank him in it. I love what Matthew 14:31 * says, ” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him .” You of little faith, ‘he said , why did you doubt? “So why did Peters bold step of faith to met Jesus abruptly stop? He saw the wind which had produced the crashing waves against the boat he and the other 11 apostles were waiting in. Peter’s fear of the wind caused him to take His eyes off Jesus, gripping his heart with doubt causing him to sink. Even though Jesus had comforted His fearful disciples only moments before while He was walking on the water saying, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” I’m comforted to know that even Peter doubted in the waiting, letting sight override faith allowing doubt to drown him… even though Jesus had lived amongst him on a daily basis with unwavering faithfulness. Like me, he let the whirlwind of circumstances deceive him, while the wind of adversity whipped up fear that raged in his soul.


Also, I find it interesting that in Matt: 14 it is recorded on three different occasions that immediately after Jesus did something for his disciples a juxtaposition took place… the value of “Waiting”. God is a God of Waiting and a God of suddenlies, though I love the suddenlies there is great significance in the Waiting. Allowing the necessary work of the Holy Spirit within our own hearts’ and minds’ to be done while we Wait. James W. Goll writes, “when the fullness of preparation, meets the fullness of time its results in the culture or atmosphere where suddenlies come to pass” The bottom line is …. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3 :11 ESV


This reality of God’s truth empowers us to take a position of rejoicing in His exceedingly great and precious promise even while we Wait.


As I repented on my four letter word comparison of the word WAIT the Lord brought to mind the countless scripture verses that celebrates Waiting.

The truth is we not only wait on Him, He waits on us.


To surrender our will for His.


To lay on the altar those things we cling to. Offering our bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God.


A beautiful exchange of earthly pleasures for His far greater kingdom purposes.


Isaiah 30 :18 is a lovely picture of His waiting on us.”For this reason the Lord is still waiting to show his favor to you so he can show you his marvelous love. He waits to be gracious to you. He sits on his throne ready to show mercy to you. For Yahweh is the Lord of justice, faithful to keep his promises. Overwhelmed with bliss are all who will entwine their hearts in him, waiting for him to help them.”


Such a comforting verse, and the thought of entwining our hearts to His is a powerful truth to cling to in our waiting.
” Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting—for he will never disappoint you!” Psalm 27:14


The Passion translation commentary writes The Hebrew word most commonly translated as “wait” (wait upon the Lord) is qavah, which also means “to tie together by twisting” or “to entwine” or “to wrap tightly.” This is a beautiful concept of waiting upon God, not passively, but entwining our hearts with him and his purposes.


It reminds me of a tall curly willow branch propped up behind our shed waiting to be used, while in its stillness a glorious honeysuckle near by seeking additional support, twirled around the dead lifeless branch. Gracefully, beautifully entwining its purpose with life and destiny.

Today you might feel like a dead branch waiting for a promise or a purpose, I have good news for you… when we wrap our heart into His we are forever changed in the process and beauty will come out of the waiting.

Perhaps you too are tired of being on the team where wait is a four letter word. Are you ready for a shift into freedom? I know I am!

As I wrote this the Lord brought to mind the game called “Olly olly oxen free”.”Olly olly oxen free” is a catchphrase or truce term used in children’s games such as hide and seek, indicating the players who are hiding can come out into the open without losing the game. Or that the position of the sides in a game has changed, meaning the game is entirely over. Wikipedia went on to say the phrase may have, ”calling all the outs in free”; in other words, all who are out may come in without penalty.


We thank you Lord for calling “Olly olly oxen free ” to all who are hiding in fear, doubt or shame. Being the glorious game changer, calling outs–IN and those still waiting will one day boldly declare… it was totally worth the Wait! .


“I have wrapped my heart into yours!” Psalms 25:5 TPT

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Dancing with Possibilities

                                                       

Through the years I have thought it would be fun to own a little boutique, well at least in theory. I did however get the joy of renting a couple booths for seven years selling home decor with a shabby chic flare. This gave me a very little taste of what having my own boutique would feel like; without all the extra responsibilities. It was a delightful chapter in my life. I also realized how much I enjoy driving by empty buildings seeing in my minds eye the potential of what those little gems could hold. A hidden jewel ready and waiting to come out of the box shining with their new found glory and purpose. An empty building with budding futures are not the only things my heart is drawn to, so too is a strong pull for discarded furniture and other roadside freebies that get me every time. Putting on the breaks, jumping out, I’m absolutely giddy as I drag my new found treasure to the van. Like a hermit crab eager to get a discarded shell, I celebrate my new found treasure all the way home.

This love affair of discarded things has tested my limits of how far I will go to get the prize. Having your eye on the prize of something you cannot lift into your car without help is always met with a prayer. Like for instance, a gorgeous large mid century dresser nestled amongst the landscape on a sloping hill. Challenge accepted and prayers were raised as I pathetically tried to scoot that behemoth of a dresser to my van. Fortunately some strapping young man took pity on this grandma’s feeble attempts and kindly offered his must needed muscle. Thank you Jesus! That “Lord have mercy prayer” worked beautifully that day.

Once again it came in handy when I saw the cutest small wooden tool shed needing a good home. There it was smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk beckoning me. I wasted no time heeding the call and quickly turned the van around parking it close enough or so I thought, ready to get that darling loaded up. As I stood next to this 6 ft beauty I assessed my game plan realizing leaving it there was not an option. So I hugged it, like you would a tree and since we were cozy I thought waltzing with it back and forth was far better to get it from point A to B, then pulling it to the van. Besides I did not want to appear rude upon our first meeting.

Choosing to dance slowly…

With the cumbersome,

Embracing all its possibilities,

Awkwardness mingled with its underlining glory,

Investing in a risk to reap an even greater reward.

No doubt I looked completely hilarious and ridiculous at the same time and yet I did not care. I knew the value and the purpose of what I choose as my unusual dance partner. Swaying with a shed to no music down the looooong stretch of Arata Road was worth the risk and reward. Finally, arriving at my van seemed like forever, a sweet lady was gracious enough to put down her bucket of popcorn realizing the “Dancing With The Shed” was over and gladly helped me hoist my new found partner into my vehicle. Finding help in the 11th hour was a pleasant surprise though I’m not going to lie, having help sooner would have been nice. Another prayer answered brought to you by God’s sense of humor and believe me He has one. This story is always funny to remember and so its all good in the hood. Besides our small towns motto is, “Everything you need in one square mile”, apparently that includes entertainment. Your welcome!

I still love the thrill of the hunt, finding treasures once deemed as trash never gets old. Seeing beauty in the unwanted, discarded and at times seemingly unlovable is in my DNA. Like the time my high school boyfriend took his dad’s beautiful white Jaguar spending the day traveling dusty roads collecting bottles and cans for money. Truth be told… we spent more money on gas then what we earned. On top of that his dad was not pleased with our joy ride, nor was my mom as I washed a bazillion dirty mainly beer cans on our front lawn. She was completely mortified the neighbors would think this God loving,church going, teetotaling mama had been hiding a big secret. What a day!

Lately this gal’s DNA pendulum of seeing worth in rejected items is swinging way beyond dirty beer cans and discarded furniture to more of the human condition. My passion has shifted even more recently turning 60, coupled with personally experiencing a greater depth of emotional and spiritual freedom. This has sparked such a hunger in me to see others completely healed and made whole. Bottom line… God is moving me into a new season enlarging my heart to break it for what breaks His. So excited and …

Ready …

To embrace the possibilities,

To dance with new opportunities even when difficult.

To look at situations that seem to big for me only …

To realize they are not to big for God.

Today by faith I chose to welcome the awkward, the messy, learning to love more deeply the broken, the discarded and what the world sees as unlovable. My heart’s desire is to have the same zeal that had me pull over for a piece of unwanted furniture to now stopping more as the Holy Spirit directs me to help a brother or sister in need. Seeing their intrinsic God given value, a beauty that is in desperate need of redemption and healing.

Through Gods love and boundless grace we are more then able to …

Change the trajectory from wounded people wounding people

to the liberating truth propelling free people to free people.

Now I look more for people than things that need some TLC. Perhaps to give a warm smile (even with a mask ) for our eyes smile too!, a hug, a prayer, or an encouraging word. Every person needs to know the Tender Loving Care of their Heavenly Father who wants to speak into their lives …

They have worth

They have value

They have a God given identity that is waiting to be uncovered from lies that they are buried under.

Thank you Jesus for the joy of walking in true freedom that can only come from you. May our lives be conduits to speak life and truth of just how good you are. Pouring out your love, grace and hope of our brightest future that comes from you the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Now that is truly music I can dance to.

Let us not only embrace new possibilities and seasons but kick up our heels and dance with them . Lisa Jennings

“Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life.” Philippians 4 :1

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return.” Natalie Cole

A broken thing can’t fix itself ~ Dean Koontz


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Worth More than Rose Gold

One thing you should know about me is that I am in love (obsessed?) with rose gold. This slight infatuation increased one hundred fold on our trip to Disneyland in 2019. While there, I was met with a sea of sparkly rose gold Minnie Mouse ears. My heart skipped a beat for these glittering beauties, but I had already made a hard and fast rule long before we planted our feet in the Magic Kingdom. My foolproof plan was to purchase my Minnie Mouse ears online long before our vacation ever started. Obviously by doing so I would save money and reduce the temptation to overspend while there. While I highly recommend this strategy, the best laid plans can still go south.

When the bargain ears arrived, they were either way too small or way too big. However, I remained fully committed to wearing them without bothering to check if they were returnable. Growing up I often heard, “waste not; want not,” and perhaps it was this notion that convinced me that those babies were getting packed up and going with us regardless of whether they looked ridiculous or not. Honestly, Disneyland is filled with ridiculous items you can place on your head anyway – one of the many things I love about the place.

When we finally arrived at the Park, Kevin encouraged me to buy something for myself. Even though I loved most of what I saw, I was far from in love with the price tags. So my admirable response was a polite, “No, thank you.”

Until.

One lustrous day, those rose gold Minnie Mouse ears finally broke down my frugality with their magnetic, glittering glory. Like a thrifty moth to the uneconomical flame, I was drawn to the display. I picked one up, just to gaze at its charming allure, and my husband wasted no time in insisting I get them. The poor guy had been watching me wearing micro or macro Minnie ears each day as we strolled in the park, and he was more than ready to bless me. Just when I was about to take the purchase plunge, I turned in the cashier’s direction and froze.

Tears suddenly welled up.

Delicate, graceful tears – for the record. No ugly crying (this time).

Seeing my tears, Kevin tenderly asked, “What’s wrong?” I looked at him and simply said,

“I don’t deserve them.”

In the forefront of my mind were all my failures and the fears I had been battling during our trip that had left me grumpy in the middle of the Happiest Place on Earth.

And the truth is, I didn’t deserve them.

Despite the truth of my confession, Kevin lovingly took the ears from my hand and marched up to the counter like a man on a mission. I stood there speechless and in awe as the guilt melted away. When he returned, he placed in my hands the most gorgeous set of Minnie Mouse ears this girl has ever laid eyes on.

It was a beautiful act of grace.

Although I had been acting in ugly ways and deserving a far different outcome, he chose to forgive me and clothe me in beauty.

The truth is, none of us deserve anything good.

We certainly don’t deserve what God has so willingly and freely given us. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 ESV.

While we were still sinners.

Christ died for us.

We are all sinners saved only by God’s redeeming grace. God’s love through the cross proved His unmerited mercy and favor towards us. We can choose to accept His free gift of salvation and forgiveness and to walk in humility, repentance, and thanksgiving.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3:1a ESV.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV.

Once we acknowledge our failure and choose to trust in Him, He clothes us with new identity and worth.

Maybe you’ve heard this good news before but were never able to let the powerful truth of it sink in fully. Understandably so. Love that is so lavish, unconditional, and full of grace is hard for us to wrap our heads around. It is mind-blowing. Each new day I’m more fully learning and understanding God’s love for me.

My heart is that you dare to discover His love for you. Don’t listen to the liar who says you cannot be loved.

My husband’s grace and generosity spoke the love of God in a language I could understand. God knows how to speak directly to your heart. Ask Him to show you His love, to help you understand. You may feel God’s love when you see a beautiful sunset, when you get a helping hand, or when you hear encouraging words. For many, getting a seemingly silly trinket like Minnie ears would not have touched your heart the way it did mine! The beautiful thing is, God knows our unique love languages because He created us to speak them. If you don’t know yours and would like to, consider checking out 5lovelanguages.com. It is an excellent tool to better understand how others give and receive love (as well as yourself).

Ultimately though, the most important thing is to read God’s word. The Bible is His love letter to us, and His Spirit speaks to each one of us through it. I highly encourage you as you read to journal His powerful truths and loving thoughts towards you.

God is faithful and patient with us as we surrender to Him. He is always there guiding our baby steps towards deeper healing as we grasp His divine truths and long for His wholeness.

My prayer for you is that you grab hold of the truth and run with it – dancing in a field of wildflowers in His freeing redemption.

God makes us worth more than rose gold.


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For Better Or Worst


All starry eyed, full of anticipation and excitement, repeating your vows of “for better or for worse” you don’t expect the worst to be on your honeymoon. Oh, sure we have heard of honeymoons going awry–getting sick, bad hotel or storms. Those “worses” are no fun right off the starting gate to wedded bliss. But for me and my husband, the capricious storm was internal, and that perfect storm landed right in me as I lay on the hotel bed in Newport, Oregon–Kevin’s childhood town where he grew up.
Like two champagne glasses raised to a toast to new beginnings only to crash to the ground shattering on earth’s impact, all that remained were shards of glass broken at my feet and a sense of bewilderment as to what happened. The perfect storm that brewed in me started with fear–fear that was tucked in a compartment I wanted to forget. The cheating high school boyfriend I planned to marry and my cheating first husband confirmed what I already felt about myself. I am unlovable, I’m less than, and I certainly cannot captivate a man to love me with total commitment or loyalty. The interactions I had with men built the case that they could not be trusted. My sweet husband was innocent, yet he paid the price for all the other men who increased my already distorted view of myself and my belief of all men in general.
And on that lovely night after consummating our marriage, voices in my head were telling me to jump out the window. Being a visual person, I could see my body sprawled on the cold pavement, the sounds of the waves crashing in the distance while the sea breeze brushed across my lifeless body, with a soft glow from the lamppost that shone down on me. Dramatic yes, yet so was my reality, immediately I shared with Kevin the horrific thoughts tormenting my mind. The poor guy–that is not what you want to hear ever, especially on your honeymoon.
I cannot praise God enough for a loving, supportive and faithful husband who has stood by me through it all. His tenacious love for God me brought me through my darkest hours. I want to encourage you that God shows no partiality undue favor or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another (Romans 2:11 AMPC).
So although I received much healing from God through Kevin we do not need a husband or wife to obtain our healing unless that is part of God’s plan. God will use different means to bring us healing in His time and ways. He is ready to answer the cry and desire of our heart for it is His heart to free us completely. Keep seeking, asking, and knocking and you will find your deliverance.

Happy 34th Wedding Anniversary to this amazing man, who loves God and people with a heart as big as the ocean.


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Good Grief

 

 

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Whenever I hear the words good grief my mind immediately goes to Charlie Brown getting chided from his disgruntled friends for his bumbling ways; as he tried desperately to fit in and feel loved unconditionally. At times the Peanuts gang became quite the peanut gallery. However, as I write this today I think about the God of all comforts who is good even in our grief. Though grief is never good in and of its’ self in the midst of our grieving, God’s goodness and comfort is ever so close to those whose hearts are breaking. When we walk through the process of grief in all it’s sorrow and messiness… He is right there with us embracing our grieving hearts with His love for Isaiah 53:3″ reminds us He is  …a man(Jesus) of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (anguish, affliction)

 

Recently I was preparing for a Women’s Conference called Lavish put on by Her Voice Movement. They suggested before hand that the women would fast from something of our choosing; to put us on the fast track, removing distractions, which allows one’s heart to hearing God more clearly opening doors to receive deeper levels of healing. I accepted the challenge and removed something in my life that was an albatross around my neck for years.

The conference was life changing not just because of the amazing worship, wonderful teaching, or the thoughtful gifts meant to represent the lavish love of God. It was an atmosphere of praise, expectancy and a deep heart cry for intimacy with our creator. He was welcomed and His healing power flowed throughout the entire weekend gathering… setting women free all around the room. This freedom is available to all who seek His face whenever and wherever… He is no respecter of persons.

 

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On the first night of the conference it was a “white out night”… with prior encouragement to wear a white top if possible. Stepping onto the elevator from the 15th floor I felt a strong urge to tell anyone boarding on the way down or up they did not die and go to heaven .  What a beautiful sight with a elevator full of  women wearing white.
Upon arriving at the 7pm. meeting we stepped into a beautiful all white room, white Butterfly fur chairs circled the stage, white sections of fur rugs snugged tightly together blanketed the floors seamlessly.

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Days before the conference God was already beginning to stir something deep inside me. Little touches of His grace were gently becoming known to me. On one particular day a love nudge from Him drew my attention to see Scooby’s dog collar hanging on the rear view mirror… I had placed it there a couple of years ago after he had passed away. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t want it up there anymore, slowly I removed it to keep it in a memory box. It was a light airy feeling of freedom and forward movement. My time of holding on and looking back through a dark , heavy cloud of grief was slowly lifting. Having no idea this would be the beginning of a journey that would ultimately end my prolonged spirit of mourning.
Returning home from the conference I was brimming full of joy and a renewed sense of hope.. and in tow carrying my white fur butterfly chair, along with two sections of white rugs they graciously gave us. Now comes the dilemma, where can I put them where our dog Buddy won’t destroy these new treasures? He already pooped on my zebra print rug that had to be thrown away. Mind you that pretty much is the only rug in our house… Really!! This rug was the focal point of our black and white room with aqua walls. It was a room I put together when our oldest son moved out and my mom was dying. A shrine of sorts, a storage room and place where a dog can poop apparently.
The zebra rug’s demise was a mere prelude to the coming attraction of what God had in mind to transform that “room of mourning” into a “room of JOY”.  It was now going to be my new little sanctuary to soak in God’s love. The black curtains came down, black lamps, black chair and dark pillows.. I now replaced with my white chair, white rugs, renewed inspiration and a closed door policy for Buddy! The darkness of grief that had lingered under the radar far too long had now outworn it’s welcome. Now being replaced with light and a perspective that ushered out the mourning. That little haven of fresh hope, life and light now streams through it’s reclaimed space. It served it’s purpose for years, it honored my mom, brother and still does…. just differently. Honestly, I know that is what they would want for me. The cleverly disguised gloom (room) that entrenched my soul, has lifted, the grieving process has had adequate time to heal.
In this season I still grieve, however it is not the same, when a memory comes to mind tears will roll down my cheek and I feel the Heavenly Father’s love comfort me like never before. My soul is no longer in deep anguish and in a gloominess that lingers. Perhaps this is what grief feels like when you have completed your heart wrenching grief process. All I know is it feels so freeing, a natural rhythm of my emotions not worrying “Am I stuffing my grief ? am I grieving too little too much?  I just am, in His presence, in His peace being held by the great I AM … He has given me a deeper sense of His goodness even in the grief.
Perhaps your grief is so recent the pain so excruciating you cannot even relate to my story of being on the other side. I know that grief as well, it is so overwhelming that even simple daily tasks seem insurmountable . Do not despair God’s word promises us * “They will enter Zion with singing ; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away “. That soul crushing sorrow, that grief that is so weighty you have to sigh to get it off your chest will one day be no more. Joy will come in the morning and will break through your mourning. Take heart God is your burden bearer and hope of a brighter tomorrow bringing good to your grief.
“Because Yahweh has anointed me (Jesus), as a messenger to preach good news to the poor.
He sent me to heal the wounds of the brokenhearted, to tell captives, “You are free,”
and to tell prisoners, “Be free from your darkness.” I am sent to announce a new season of Yahweh’s grace
and a time of God’s recompense on his enemies, to comfort all who are in sorrow,
to strengthen those crushed by despair who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful bouquet in the place of
ashes, the oil of bliss instead of tears, and the mantle of joyous praise instead of the spirit of heaviness
Because of this, they will be known as Mighty Oaks of Righteousness, planted by Yahweh as a living display of his glory. Isaiah 61 -1:4 TPT
“A time to weep and a time to laugh a time to mourn and a time to dance “. Ecclesiastes 3:4
“Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning “. Psalms 30:5
“To experience God’s comfort while you’re suffering with grief, Try to focus on God’s goodness , and He’ll bring your heart relief ” O.D.B Devotional collection
* Isaiah 51:11


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Thug Alley

people on empty street between buildings

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Thug Alley was a game my husband played as a young boy with his brothers. Growing up as the youngest of 7 children they found endless ways to amuse themselves. Even though I had only one sibling, my older brother and I had our fair share of tomfoolery too, I just can’t imagine it seven fold!

As legend has it, one of Kevin’s brother’s, (usually Mark) would position himself at the end of the hallway, while Kevin was at the front. They were now ready for Thug Alley… as formidable opponents poised to wrestle; thanks to Mark being upon his knees to even out the playing field a smidgen. Kevin being the baby had something to prove to his older brothers and would come out with every intent to not get walloped

As the baby in my family, whenever I tried to prove myself in back to back challenge (in much milder forms) even with my brother Troy graciousness to me. It still typically didn’t fair as well for me, unlike the glorious victory laps in my mind eye.
Kevin’s Thug Alley even had a theme song to the tune of Elvis Presley’s “Double Trouble”. Tussling it out to these creative lyrics: “I got double thugged, I got triple thugged, three times as much as I ever got thugged before. W-h-o-a, whoa!” Such drama leading up to the big smack down. This my friends is what you did when cell phones and video games where not yet invented .  Oh the good old days !

The infamous Thug Alley story came to mind the other day when I was wrestling UFC style full throttle in worry mode. In an all out battle to take this all to familiar foe to the mat and to keep him there until he cries uncle. I’m soooo done with ominous and catastrophic thinking that has plagued my thought life for so long. The proverbial waiting for the other shoe to drop while mentality positioning myself in a defensive or offensive mode to never be caught off guard.

No doubt as I look back this scrappy self preservation had its roots in the sexual abuse and other deep seated wounds I had encountered throughout my childhood. Causing seeds of doubt and lack of trust in God’s pure goodness toward me, to germinate and establish itself in the form of worry and anxiety.

Dialoguing with God I asked for help once again desiring to kick this thing, pinning it to the mat in submission and defeat! When God lovingly asked me this question, ” Lisa ,if you had a choice would you hand out in a dark alley or go to Disneyland?”
He had my attention and I was all ears of the Mickey Mouse persuasion.
Disneyland is my favorite place to go ever and having just come back from the Happiest Place on Earth, the sights, sounds and smells are still fresh in my mind. How magical! I’ll never tire of it!

No one has to love Disneyland as much as I do to say yes to the Magic Kingdom over a pitch black , sunless, closed in alleyway. You don’t have to like the churros, rides or even heaven forbid the adorable Mickey Mouse himself to choose peace and joy over fear and intrepidation that only God can offer.
God had brought before my eyes the stark contrast of light and darkness and the power of a choice. Moving forward, I have a powerful visual of how I will choose to think. Enjoying a Dole whip in the warm sunshine of tasting and seeing God is good… or digging in a rusty dumpster of fear in a dank alley.

When put in those terms it seems like a no brainer to me, yet it will still require work to train my mind in new ways of thinking. I have postured my thought in Thug Alley for so long, all the while the enemy of my soul has enjoyed every minute of it. For his nature is that of a thief and he comes only to steal, kill and destroy. His plan is merciless, pitiless and downright cruel. No comparison between the Thug Alley Kevin and his brothers played as children.

For all the times I wandered down wrong paths with skewed thinking, I am thankful to Jesus that I still found His Love protecting me, gently redirecting me to light, freedom and wide open spaces, in all His promises that are yes and amen.
“I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer. So – answer! bend your ear! listen sharp! Paint grace graffiti on the fences; take in your frightened children who are running from the neighborhood bullies straight to you.” Psalms 17 :6-7 The Message

Maybe your happy place is toes digging in warm sandy beaches as soothing sound of waves lap the shores, rather than the faint sound of screams as thrill seekers are dropped 13 stories for kicks and giggles. Wherever your happy place is it can only truly start with Jesus in your heart as your Savior and Lord. Only He can navigate you through the dark alley ways of your life with victory that is not just imagined but real, tangible and pulsing with an abundant life of peace, freedom, and joy.

Now with new tools under my belt when the enemy tries to take me down, I will straighten my crown and Mickey Mouse ears, looking him square in the eyes and say with confidence, “Devil no not today “* Then joyfully do my victory lap sipping a Dole whip float with it’s tiny umbrella accent. Go Team Jesus!

 

72481983_10212228504548018_3034547729251434496_n.jpg DISNEYLAND KEVIN AND I

Kevin and I in training for our Team Jesus victory lap!

” For the rest, brethren ,whatever is true ,whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly ,whatever is just,whatever is pure,whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise think on and weigh and take account of these things fix your mind on them “.Philippians 4:8

 

 

“Who then is left to condemn us? Certainly not Jesus, the Anointed One! For he gave His life for us, and even more than that, He has conquered death and is now risen, exalted, and enthroned by God at his right hand. So how could He possibly condemn us since He is continually praying for our triumph?” TPT Romans: 8:34

“Who could ever separate us from the endless love of God’s Anointed One? Absolutely no one! For nothing in the universe has the power to diminish His love toward us. Troubles, pressures, and problems are unable to come between us and heaven’s love.” TPT Romans 8:35

*Not Today Hillsong United


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Hold You Me

grayscale photo of woman kissing toddler on cheek standing beside tree

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When Trent our youngest son was a toddler, I would gaze down at that precious cherub face gently framed by his golden locks of hair, and ask him, ” Do you want mommy to hold you?; especially when he seemed in need of a snuggle of comfort or reassurance.With his nod of approval he would be swooped up in my loving arms with sheer delight, embracing the joy of the tender moment. More often than not, he was content and fully engaged in life with endless bounds of energy and no need for mommy to hold him. He had places to go, people to see, and by golly things to do.
When I come to think about it, reflecting on Trent’s childhood photos, it is safe to say there are way more photos of him it motion than sitting still. Yet every now and then his little spirit needed comfort and if I was busy and not as keen to his needs, he would come to my side tug on my clothing or wrap his arms around my leg; all the while looking up with his brown eyes and squeezable cheeks saying, “Mommy hold you me”. My heart would melt at his adorable rendition of my all to familiar question and soon he would be in my arms greeted with a kiss and the comfort he was longing for. “Mommy hold you me” is one of my all time favorite sayings during his toddler years, and has been one I draw on as a spiritual lesson as well.
Hold you me … is like saying, “Love others as you love yourself”.* Matt: 22:39
One colossal hurdle for me has been the journey of learning to love myself. Reeling from crippling low self esteem and a distorted body image, which in my early twenties lead me on a painful journey of battling anorexia prior to marrying Kevin. My unhealthy body image would have morphed into bulimia after we got married if he had not caught me with my head in the toilet trying to throw up. Confident I had locked the bathroom door to hide my shame, surely had it not been for that divine intervention  I would have began to spiral down the chasm of bulimia. Coupled with that divine intervention, was the gift of Kevin’s faithfulness and love to always compliment me no matter what the bathroom scale registered. That unconditional love allows me the freedom to learn to love myself as God intends… banishing the lies of the enemy and the worldly distortions that had bombarded my soul .
Through the years I have been ruthless… unyielding to extend grace or unconditional love to myself… instead allowing a grueling taskmaster to hammer at my soul without mercy. Punishing every flaw and imperfection, begging it to submit to the unattainable idol of perfection. Though I could love and forgive others in my limited capacity I could never seem to extend that luxury to myself. Looking back now, if I had a friend that treated me as badly as treated myself I would have dropped that abusive relationship like a hot potato. I’m still learning to love me as I snuggle up in the arms of a profoundly loving God; attuning my heart to hear His heart and thoughts towards me… His beloved daughter. Just as Trent needed that reassuring comfort and love from me.
When a scribe asked Jesus which commandment is the first and principal of all? Jesus answered, “The first is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater then these. ” *Mark 12: 30,31 Paraphrased
“The scribe admired and embraced the truth Jesus laid out and when Jesus saw that he answered intelligently (discreetly and having his wits about him) He said ” You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Loving God out of and with our whole heart and out of and with all our soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (your faculty of thought and your moral understanding ) and out of and with all your strength “* AMP Mark 12:32,33 Paraphrased
Oh to not be far from the kingdom of God, Such freedom ! He wants all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. When we press into Him we are comforted and loved with the deepest love that goes to the core of our being. Bringing healing and wholeness into every nook and cranny of brokenness. How can love for ourselves and others not flow out from that rich abundance?

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Profound revelations from the mouth of a babe. Now with that resounding love and freedom I have places to go, people to love and by golly things to do! Please join me as we have Jesus, “Hold You Me”.

“Give away a breathtaking amount of grace.We have an endless supply since it comes from an infinite source”
Live in Grace, Walk in Love. Bob Goff

“How precious and weighty also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sand. When I awoke, [could I count to the end] I would still be with You.” Psalms 139:7,8 AMP


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The Avenger

superman-295328__340Having two boys and a husband that love action movies like Marvel cinematic films narrowed my chances of seeing a chick flick down, next to nil, in the presence of these three. Which, by the way is absolutely fine with me. I thoroughly enjoyed being with them, having a shared experience completely devoid of, “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality. The movies were action packed and full of adventure, good vs evil; with good ultimately prevailing. But, hands down being in the company of my family was impossible to beat!

Kevin and I occasionally carry on the tradition of an action packed movie night; even though the boys are not much part of the event these days. Presently, we have added a few chick flicks to our viewing selection… possibly to your amazement, Kevin enjoys some of them as well. My husband what a hero!

Speaking of hero’s, Jesus our True conquering Hero, paid the ultimate price on the cross for our sin and shame. His word tells us, “He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through His bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on Him”.  How refreshing, load lifting and brimming with hope that never disappoints.

Recently, after going to see the ” Avengers Endgame” my morning devotion had me land on Jeremiah 51, which at the time seemed random. However, it did not take long to see why my choice was not random at all… but rather quite divine. The words leaped off the page grabbing my attention far greater than any adrenaline driven movie moment. Right there in verses 34-37 was a thrilling life changing revelation, “Then I, God step in and say, I’m on your side, taking up your cause, I’m your Avenger !” Wow friends! How epic and reassuring… good triumphing over evil, hope cascading over despair, delivering the knockout punch to the enemies that loomed over us. All the while, washing away injustices with a love that is undeniable. A tangible, palatable victory, far removed from the bad taste that was left in our mouth’s by guilt or embarrassment. This overcoming conquering king is in our corner 24/7, never sleeping or slumbering… even when you cannot feel Him. That is truly and “End Game” changer!

God pleads our case, rights our wrongs, restores what has been devoured and loves us so fiercely; championing for our peace, salvation and joy. What is our role in this glorious package? Simply receive it free of charge, your admission has already been paid for.
I have had the joy of seeing fresh areas of God’s redemption in my life recently. One significant area involved spearheading a last minute planning for my high school 40th year reunion. On a whim, and being my first rodeo in regards to planning a reunion, it sounded like fun. None of this could not have been done without my two delightful sidekicks Janet and Judi, who were gracious enough to come along for the wild ride. To be truthful, I am surprised we were able to pull it off not only in the short amount time, lackluster funds and potentially a low turnout; but also staying on task amidst all our laughter and lively conversations we had during our planning sessions. One thing we were confident about, no matter how it was to play out on reunion night, we would have fun connecting with our classmates and each other.

Yet through all the laughter and joy and encouragement these two brought, my heart had some trepidation beyond the normal reunion jitters one might experience.  For my heart was carrying a dark secret, one I had only shared with a hand full of people since it happened over 40yrs ago.  In my heart I knew that I needed to share what happened to me in the safety of their friendship. It was imperative so that I could continue my healing journey upward and into a place of greater freedom and victory. And in doing so I was embraced with deep love and support from both of them… my apprehensions melted away and my heart was greatly comforted.

Now moving ahead, though difficult, I feel it is important to share my story not in a place of sorrow and victimhood but of victory. God’s word says, “They have overcome (conquered )him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.” So in that truth I can now share that I was raped during my senior year by a fellow student. For years I wrestled with shame, guilt and sorrow trying to bury my trauma so I could face each day pretending with all my might that life was normal. Adding to the difficultly was never being able to tell my parents about being sexually assaulted, which left me feeling alone, and with no one standing in my corner defending me. For somewhere in the depths of my broken and shattered soul I felt responsible. It took me years with the Lord’s help and love of others to unpack the truth of that dreadful night… that it was never my fault ever. Though that person apologized after the event, it was a long bumpy road before I arrived at true forgiveness. I’ve realized along the way, that in order for a person to be able to abuse another human in any way shape or form, is out of such brokenness that only God can truly heal them. I hope and pray he has found the freedom and peace God longs to give him.

God in His unfailing love has redeemed the areas of sexual abuse that go far beyond that one painful night in Dec. of 1978 to a place of healing, peace and joy.

The night finally came for our 40th year class reunion, the turnout was great and it was a night of joy and personal redemption… fully enjoying my classmates with such love and freedom. My 40 years of wandering in a high school wilderness of memories, now entering a promise land of fresh new beginnings and a satisfying do over. Just like the Joel 2:25-26 (NIV) promises:

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm[a]—
my great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.

Lord, thank you for being our Avenger taking up our cause with love while also desiring freedom for both sides involved in the heartache. We praise you that the pain of yesterday is swallowed up in the victory of today. We praise you that those that put their trust in you will not be put to shame or disappointed. You are by far the best super hero ever!

Skipping school my senior year to enjoy the snow at Glendoveer Golf Course. Portland , Oregon,  Scan0008

 

 


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Honey From The Rock

 

 

 

photo of person holding stones

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My husband Kevin and I love hunting for agates. His love for finding agates grew when he lived in Newport Oregon for 5 years as a child, mine did too, while celebrating many of my July birthday’s with my family at Agate beach, which just so happens to be in Newport as well! We have often pondered if we saw each other as children passing our future soulmate unaware.
To this day it still brings us joy, and now a little friendly competition whenever we search for these little treasures together. Positioning our heads down, eyes locked into laser like focus as we comb the beaches landscape. The oceans sights and sounds are a mere backdrop for the sole commitment to score the mother of all agates. From time to time breaking from our personal dedication to conquer this quest we pause to come together, sharing our findings and marvel at each others good eye and fortune. For nearly 33 years we have shared this fun activity together, possessing plenty of agates to prove it .
Recently our annual agate hunt was unlike any other we have encountered. On this particular weekend we joined our dear friends Joe and Susy to celebrate their 43th Wedding Anniversary at a hotel and beach area we have never been to. Not only was it thrilling to commemorate their special occasion, experiencing a new beach sight was an added bonus.
The weather forecast looked bleak for our planned trip predicting heavy rain and high winds. Understandably dampening our spirits with gloomy prediction caused second thoughts to creep up like a sneaker wave. For me personally, not only was the weather looking stormy, so were my emotions. Brooding, sad, and in a funk that was in dire need of a sunny deposition, like our friend Jim says, “going to the beach is like mental floss “. Apparently, a good hardy flossing was in order. Thankfully we all pushed through those pesky apprehensions concerning the weather. Committed to pressing on with an unwavering resolve to go, come heck or high water.
Though I unwillingly packed up my sorrow with me that day, God found a way to break through that sadness with a promise that weekend.
After arriving, we had a delightful evening of fun, food and fellowship in spite of the rain.
By morning we were amazed, the rain had ceased and the skies were clear… now I was chomping at the bit, eagerly wanting to take a walk on the beach. Kevin was tired and his back was hurting, so I made the trek down to the beach by myself. My prayer was… “God please show yourself. My heart is hurting, I need your peace and comfort.” In all honesty, I also prayed that He would lead me to find a glass float;        (hey it never hurts to ask ). Even though He never did reveal a shimmering glass orb, However, much to my delight He did expose a beautiful agate which I immediately bent down to pick up. It was a good size and to my surprise their were countless more of these little gems. Upon this great discovery I wasted no time to call my husband, exclaiming “You have to come down here… there are so many agates”. My persuasion was lackluster at best, he lovingly declined my offer while waving to me from the motel’s deck in the distance.
As I continued walking without my trusty agate buddy I found even more agates, saddened Kevin was missing out on one of his favorite things to do. It became clear that drastic times called for drastic measures, with determination I went back to the motel to prove the validity of my findings confident this could possibly seal the deal. Reaching our room I opened the door and laid my treasures on the ground near Kevin while he was on the floor rolling out his back. His interest peaked at my finds while realizing I indeed did hit the agate jackpot. Wrapping up his stretching, back freshly rolled out, he was now ready and eager to join me in the hunt.
The exhilaration of faith becoming sight always brings a fresh wind of hope, a new found strength, and a desire starting a fire that rekindles in our souls. How delightful it was to share the best agate hunting event ever with my partner in crime. I won’t tell you who found the biggest agate that day. It’s not nice to brag! I will tell you that this location is at the top of our list for a revisit.
Traveling home I decided to read how agates are formed in God’s creation, which is always so fascinating! One explanation was that they develop as secondary deposits in hollow cavities called “Vesicles”. The layers form in stages, the cavities are irregularly and uniquely shaped.
Those little stones tell a story of beauty wrought by a gaping hole. This beach trip revealed that my heart had a hole formed out of brokenness, feeling so cavernous through my lens of pain, it seemed almost impossible to heal. As I talked with the Lord on the beach that day He had me stop and watch the people gathering treasures from the sea, once storm tossed, battered, now a token of resilient beauty, being collected in joy and wonder. As I observed people stoop and gather the gems, God lovingly whispered in my spirit, “Someday your pain, loss and heartbreak will be a nugget of hope and healing to those whose heart’s are breaking. Instantly the pain lessened with the reminder His bigger picture is far grander then my eyes could see in my present state.
Your heart might feel emotionally split like a canyon of grief, undone by a sucker punch of circumstances that took your breath away. Yet God knows it all, nothing slips through His loving fingers to defeat you. All His unending love and devotion to you will fill your gaping wounds with His glory. Honey from a rock, sweetness from extreme bitterness, hopelessness into resounding hope. Your heartache transformed into a memorial gem of sparkling redemption, bringing joy to other sojourners who long for the same freedom.
Lord, We praise you for your healing touch to broken hearts. Nothing is ever wasted in your kingdom plans for your children. Thank you for helping me to see earthly woes with heavenly wonder, soaring like a kite with a tail of Your unfailing love.

 

 

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Me at Agate Beach celebrating my 8th Birthday 1969

 
“This is( a gate) to wonder” author unknown

 
“They will feast on the abundance of the seas, on the hidden treasure in the sands” Deuteronomy 33:19

 
“When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end” Isaiah 43:2 The Message

 

 

11 O you afflicted [city], storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in fair colors [in antimony to enhance their brilliance] and lay your foundations with sapphires.
12 And I will make your windows and pinnacles of [sparkling] agates or rubies, and your gates of [shining] carbuncles, and all your walls [of your enclosures] of precious stones.
13 And all your [spiritual] children shall be disciples [taught by the Lord and obedient to His will], and great shall be the peace and undisturbed composure of your children.
Isaiah 54:11-13 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)


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The Little Misplaced Acorn

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Many years ago, while strolling down the malls’ sidewalk with my mama and two little ones in tow, we eventually found ourselves inside a craft store. Even to this day my heart skips a beat with excitement “in a world of pure imagination” aka… craft stores. Immersing myself in the creativity that flows from talented employees and stunning decorative products is always delightful. Though I rarely purchase much my eyes feast to their fill in endless imaginative possibilities.

On that particular day was no exception, winding around the aisles with wonder we stopped at the unfinished wood section. Our excited 3 year old knelt down to get a closer look at the bountiful supply of wooden objects. Quickly his hands and mind burgeoned with inventiveness gazing at the wooden wheels, round orbs, and dowels to name a few of the vast assortment. As our visit came to a close, he lifted his knees from the dusty floor, and bid adieu to the wooden kingdom he ruled over momentarily. For now the little king left his temporary abode and unbeknownst to me, he also forgot his little wooden acorn he brought with him. Overcome with endless options he laid down his tiny treasure to grab ahold of something new and more intriguing… leaving the little acorn behind.

This small carved wooden acorn was a gift I bought my husband before we were married. It was a beautiful reminder that a small, seemingly insignificant acorn is really a cleverly disguised oak tree. Heralding the important to *”not despise small beginnings”, for God always sees the bigger picture. So much so that all the potential of a mighty oak is in a nut that cradles a seed of stately greatness. This tiny acorn captivated our son’s attention and though at the time he did not understand its’ deeper significance, it still became a beloved trinket he loved carrying around with him as a child.

Months came and went without a notice of the little nut that went AWOL, in all our busyness of life the acorn dropped off everyone’s radars. Winter had passed and the promise of Spring was now replacing barren branches;, new life bursting through bleak soil and dreary skies. Spring now welcoming us out of winters’ hibernation, wooing us to celebrate it’s arrival A perfect time to get out of the house, load up the kids in mom’s car and least run an errand to the Oregon City Mall.

Upon arrival, we happily greeted the outdoor sidewalks that were now doable without the winter chill . Taking in all the the sights and sounds we mosied down the malls’ path towards the craft store, when out of the blue my son blurted out, “my acorn, my acorn! Mom and I looked at each other realizing in unison he had left his little acorn in a ocean of unfinished wood pieces months before. Though apprehensive, we prayed that “what was lost would be found.” Mom and I picked up the pace, and positioned ourselves to be his wingman, while he ran with a mission to get there ASAP. Racing to the wooden wonderland he once ruled over he quickly bent down this time in hopes to find what he had left behind. Low and behold to all of our astonishment, his little acorn lay right where he had left it months earlier. Squealing with delight he reclaimed his lost treasure grasping it tightly with an unwavering resolve of ownership and relief. Mom and I too were relieved, rejoicing in what “was lost had now been found.”

That little wooden acorn survived both customers, and employees restocking, remaining an undisturbed holy treasure hidden in plain view. Its’ meaning, purpose and truth laid down but not lost forever. Dormant and still, yet brimming with life’s fullness waiting to be unleashed and reclaimed.

I don’t know about you but in times past I too have laid down things in order to grab what caught my attention or peaked my curiosity; letting go of an important treasure allured by a possible worthy contender. There were times in my life when my faith in God was laid on a shelf, while I choose to walk away. Deep wounds seemingly too painful to endure without the help of worldly distractions to fill the unholy chasm. At times turning my back on God perhaps believing that at times He had turned his back on me. My purpose, self worth and destiny fallow as I grappled with a pain that no worldly possession was able to soothe. Until a day came that in all my restlessness and emptiness a realization  finally dawned on me.

God not only loves us unconditionally, He patiently waits for that seed of greatness He planted in all of us to take root. Though I had temporarily left that truth on a shelf like my sons’ acorn so many years later. He remains steadfast offering a future and a hope that does not disappoint with a seed promise bursting with breathtaking grandeur, unlimited potential, and more brouhaha than anything the world has to offer. Funny thing is the Hebrew meaning of brouhaha means, “Blessed be he who enters” * and to think I just found it fun to say.

So no matter how far you strayed away, nor how unworthy you feel for the choices you made along the way. God bids you to enter and be blessed as His words paint for us a soul comforting picture of unyielding commitment.

“Therefore the Lord waits [expectantly] and longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.[a]For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed (happy, fortunate) are all those who long for Him [since He will never fail them]”. Isaiah 30:18AMP

My prayer is that you and I run back to God with all the zeal our son did when He finally realized what he forgot and embrace the joy that ensued that glorious discovery. God is in the business of finding and being found and you are no exception. His deepest longing is to reclaim the irreplaceable treasure called YOU… that my friend is a big deal or as I like to say, a whole lotta brouhaha!

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

*Zechariah 4:10
* Psalms 118:26