My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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Finding Your Joy

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After we positioned the desk in our bedroom it came with high hopes of it becoming a cozy little nook for me to write and study God’s word.  This snug little creative and emotional get away  morphed into a clutter “catch all” invoking in me no sense of calm or creativity.  Simply put, for two years its’ smooth top tempted me to lay unfolded clothes and disheveled stacks of paperwork on its inviting surface.  Sad to say I yielded to this temptation repeatedly.  Finally, on one particular day I decided it was high time that the desk was returned to its former glory.

Now cleared of its jumbled confusion it was off to the kitchen to fetch some hot tea. The cheery red letter “JOY” mug seemed like the perfect choice to steep my decaffeinated green tea. Plop went the teabag into the steaming hot water while I swirled in  tasty agava nectar.

Next on the list was to go about gathering my Bible, devotionals and journal. Though I was able to find both my Bible and devotions rather quickly, my personal journal was nowhere to be found. My joy was now cooling as quickly as my once pipping hot cup of tea. “Where is it Lord ?”  I asked needing  clear direction and resolve in  finding my missing journal.
Still nowhere in sight, trying very hard to savor the moment seated at my newly clutter free desk. Even though I had my bible, devotionals and lukewarm cup of tea, they were not comforting my nagging thoughts that my personal journal was lost. Just about then  my husband called on his lunch break, I proceeded to lament my dilemma  to him, he suggested perhaps it could have slid underneath  the back car seat…just like his Bible had done on Sunday.  After we finished our conversion I again headed out to the car this time hoping his suspicions would be correct. Now the weather was a heavy down pour as I began to trudge to our van. While leaning into the side opening numbing cold raindrops doused my lower back where my sweater and pants separated at the waist. Thus, spurring me to purposely lean in further, delving into a deeper more deliberate search. Sure enough right where my husband had suspected was my precious  journal. Displaying “FINDING YOUR JOY” boldly on  its cover, making me chuckle at its very appropriate and forgotten title. Usually the front cover is  hidden, bent back, journal pages open and ready to pour my heart onto.
Immediately my mind thought about joy the way James chapter 1 vs 2–4 writes about.  It reads: “Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.  Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.  But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be people perfectly and fully developed lacking in nothing.”

My idea of joy is not always God’s idea of finding joy.  It’s more than a flashy, splash of Joy written on a shiny white mug  and everything is going as planned. Rather, it is about being joyful even when your joy mug seems empty and your plans have went awry.  Happiness is based on circumstances  while JOY is found in the Lord. True joy is experienced and known in our hearts regardless of what our errant notions of it are.  Ever so slowly I’m learning the difference, experiencing joy that comes from the Lord and not my happenings. Finding joy when circumstances waver from my picture perfect scenario, trusting in a God whose way is best.

Thank you Jesus your word promises us everlasting joy and gladness shall be upon our heads. Fresh, abounding, overflowing joy from you, our strength and place of refuge. Holy Spirit may our lives be ripe with your love and peace, filling our cup with a continual supply of joy spilling over. Which by the way….sounds like  my cup of tea!

Galatians 5:22, 23  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”.


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Confessions of the Too Tight Tutu

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Excitement filled the fall air as my first  ballet class at the coveted Judy Marsh School of dance had arrived. At a mere tender age of eight yet feeling well on my way to becoming a budding prima ballerina. Thoughts long had danced in my mind laced with ballet shoe ribbons,  twirling images of lavish costumes and billowing tutus.

And now entering my class full of anticipation accompanied by jittery nerves.  Newly purchased pink tights providing necessary support to my now wobbly knees. Little ballerinas  all a flurry while small hands and feet energetically removing our coats and shoes. Emerging ready to dance,  donning soft  pink leather ballet shoes scurrying to position ourselves at the polished wooden ballet barre lining the mirror.  Miss Marsh’s serene voice instructing and encouraging her little ballerinas to greatness.

Each week I was resolved to faithfully attend class, while at home committed to practicing my newly learned dance steps. As the weeks progressed my enthusiasm digressed with each class technique I could not master. What I had envisioned for myself and what I was capable of doing were two completely different things.  From my perspective, it seemed so effortless, yet it was considerably harder and more difficult to perform causing my spirits to droop right along with my tights.

My slouching deposition heightening after each class  as I returned to a car filled with the wafting smell of delicious Fryer Tuck spuds. Wishing I had skipped class and ate those tender morsels right along with my waiting mom and brother. Questioning yet again if class time was worth missing out on the pipping hot bounty of potato wedges as I dug into the foil bag for a few lukewarm leftovers. This ballerina was swiftly losing passion and  appeared on all accounts to be ready for her final swan song.

Finding myself ready to prepare for the final curtain call on my short lived aspirations, a second wind arose upon  learning  Mrs. Marsh  had a Christmas surprise for each of us.  Gathering at the ballet barre, anxiously wiggling and chatting, one by one we had our waists measured for her plans.  Within a few short moments it was time for the  golden tape to be slipped around my waist soon revealing its’ measurements. Completely confident of the proper etiquette when having one’s waist measured I did what I thought was the  right thing to do… you take a deep breath and suck it all  in !

However, this “right” answer turned out to be terribly “wrong” considering I was getting fit for a tutu  made with a snap closure waistband. Elastic would have been far more forgiving for a girl who loved Fryer Tuck spuds so dearly.

For immediately upon wearing this heavenly white tutu of layered tulle with a satin waistband, it exploded off my unrestricted waist every time I bowed to  plie or breathe normally. The class erupted in wild giggles, instantly becoming the unintentional class clown, cheeks warm from the blush of embarrassment. The dream of being a refined and elegant ballerina was already fading fast and now it was gone in a “snap” because  of my too tight tutu. The time had  indeed come to lay to rest the dream of learning ballet, thus choosing to retire this tutu and shoes into a box of memories.

Many years have passed since that final curtain call and still somehow those memories seemed rather unfinished.  Thus, I began to trust in a God  that loves to restore what the locust have eaten. Deciding in my late twenties to give ballet a good old college try regardless of my mediocre skills… signing up at Mt Hood Community College.

Mustering up the nerve to face my fears and attempt to relearn ballet . Once again I found myself in the same predicament… never finishing this class either. However, God who is so loving and  full of mercy brought me needed healing;  gently reminding me it’s all about the journey and never about the envisioned or perceived destination.  For not only did this class bring me more closure to my first wildly “unsnapped” ballet ending, it also gave me the idea of starting a cottage business making ballerina bears… which by the way is a whole other story!

Do you ever feel like you don’t measure up?   Perhaps you’ve had to “suck it up” to fit in. God’s word lovingly encourages us, “not to compare ourselves with each other as if one of us was better and the another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives, each of us is an original “.*  Though I was too young to know then what I’m journeying to fully grasp now, my heart is profoundly grateful to God for… “By His grace I am what I am, and His grace towards me was not in vain.”**  And so it is with you.. because you matter incomparable to Him, more then measuring up in His eyes, as He  beckons you to breathe freely and generously, His heart bursting with love and acceptance for the one of a kind you.  So come into His presence fully accepting all He longs to give you, arms open wide to embrace you… too tight tutu and all. While possibly saying  to yourself “Oh Snap” Why didn’t I do this sooner….

You did it: you changed wild lament
into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
I can’t thank you enough.
Psalm 30:11  The Message (MSG)

* I Cor.15:10  NKJ Bible      ** Gal. 5:26  The Message Bible


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Last week I posted my story “Dancing Queen” and then remembered it was not the first time I was encouraged to dance. So here I am shaking my tail feathers in 2009 and the reason why below.Image

Approaching the church where our friends daughter was having her high school graduation ceremony it became clear that I had misjudged the travel time and arrived far too early.  This would account for the sparse amount of cars in the parking lot, upon which I double checked my watch, it confirmed my oversight.  Rather than waiting around with my two sons I suggested  a quick look at the Good Will store just down the road. Wasting no time, off we went, bargain shopping in our blood coursing through our veins.

Once there, it was “divide and conquer”, three people with seemingly choreographed moves fanning out to their promising sections of interest. The boys headed for electronics,  while I ventured to the wall hangings, acute to the fact our wall space is limited. Regardless,  there I stood  looking at a eye catching wooded sign.  Rich  brown tones, golden accents and letters gracefully  spelling out the invitation “I Hope You’ll Dance”. Promptly I began reasoning with myself how the colors were indeed perfect for our living room, softly in awe of this item while its’ tempting price tag boldly  declared BUY ME!.  Surely our  walls could accommodate just one more modest sized plaque. Looking at my watch yet again, being  mindful not to be late to the commencement, I made my purchase, found my sons and away we went.

Later after the sweet ceremony, my evening came to a close relaxing at home. “I Hope You’ll Dance” was my song choice for the night… listening to it over and over on YouTube, letting it’s lovely truths lull me.

The  very next day a dear friend and former neighbor stopped by to drop off a graduation gift for our son Trent.  During her visit she wondered if one of our two sons would dance with her daughter Evelyn at her Mis Quince Anos celebration, and much to my delight our oldest son Derek agreed to.  My heart  warming as my mind dawdled down memory lane. It seemed like only yesterday when this  wonderful family had moved into our neighborhood from California. My husband and I found ourselves instantly forging a friendship with them.  Their two children were the same age as ours, a three year old and the other, a mere eighteen months.  Now standing before us  was a beautiful  young woman and handsome young men. Where did the time go?

Just as quickly as vivid snippets of the past quickly inundated my thoughts, they just as rapidly took a  sharp turn. With a flip of the switch a light bulb moment illuminated my mind as to why I was so drawn to the “I Hope You’ll Dance”  plaque; a fresh new perspective, a fascinating mystery solved.  But you know how the saying goes, “there is always more to the story” and this is no exception. Shortly after Derek was asked to dance with Evelyn a change of events occurred,  leaving her first dance to now be with her father.

As the months passed, my thoughts didn’t reflect on that wooden plaque unless it was time for a occasional dusting, which come  few and far between.  Before I knew it October rolled around and the time had come for Evelyn’s Mis Quince Anos.  Decorations were up, people arrived and the celebration began. Halfway through the event the banquet hall  was hushed to stillness as a  beautifully touching slide show of Evelyn life was played. Thoughtful moving music added sentiment to the presentation and then the unexpected happened… the song “I Hope You’ll Dance” began to play… Those words  gave me  that same stirring that happened four months prior when I found my sign at Goodwill. Thus, it was not a big surprise when later in the evening the DJ invited the audience to a group dance, choosing to seize the moment, longing to conquer my fears of looking foolish and uncoordinated. Collecting myself together, and in one quick moment I stepped onto the dance floor and danced;… something I have not done for over 25 years!  It’s been said, “To conquer life is to take one step at a time”.  How fun to do it in the form of a dance step… having no doubt that I looked foolish, the unpolished dancer that I am, somehow it seemed rather okay, I was just obeying the “Sign”… I Hope You’ll Dance.


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Dancing Queen

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Strolling through the household items while at the Salvation Army store my eyes became completely drawn to a beautiful picture frame. Black glossy details on crisp white ceramic with a swirl of chartreuse, its’ top bedecked with a stunning jeweled crown.  Upon examining the framework more closely it revealed the beautiful scrolled  words  “Dancing Queen” written on the base. Thus far this little gem was scoring winning marks on all counts… then suddenly plummeting from it’s current number one position.

How could I, a bona fide two time ballet school drop out, who preferred  clinging  to the ballet bar rather than  venture out onto the dance floor possibly relate to the declaration “Dancing Queen”?  Not an affirming  message I hoped to add to my newly decorated craft room.  For when decorating I find it important  that it matches the color palate or theme.  Advantageous  if it holds a special meaning or memory, that stirs my heart in such a way making me confident it will make our house more like home.

Even though its’ title threw me off momentarily  this item was compelling enough to keep a hold of it tightly in hand pondering it as an option. Continuing leisurely, I made my way through other favorite sections of the store, while music softly played. Suddenly, I heard something that made my ears perk up to the next song serenading us overhead;  to my utter astonishment  it was the song from  Abba, the “Dancing Queen”.  Temporarily frozen in my tracks, clutching a frame bearing the very same title, I somehow  gathered my senses.  My legs began to propel onward looking for my family, excitement mounting while eager to show them this silly coincidence.

No other sign now needed, this 2.99 purchases had a special meaning for me!  What glory would it unfold as it graced my new space?, which  formally had been our oldest sons room. Perhaps its’ presence reminding me to see myself in a new  light, that had through time grown dim. During my childhood years I dreamed of being a ballerina yet  early on it was clear I lacked the confidence and determination to be one.  Plagued with self depreciation in the mirror of my mind it revealed a distorted image. Over and over rehearsing the lies and half truths  till they spun out of control.

This frame already began igniting  truths to see  myself not with  limited abilities but rather unlimited possibility.  Dancing if not fully in body  (though I still give it a try in  private) certainly could allow my spirit to confidently move within my soul.  An open invitation  graciously extended to all His sons and daughters.

Our King of Kings and Lord of Lords who rejoices over us with singing, lovingly calling us to dance with Him; moving us with glided steps, twirling freedom and  leaps of faith  producing joy before our feet even touch the floor.  Eyes fixed on the lover of our soul never longing to stray nor wander from His plans and purposes… in step with His lead.  While He remains completely enthralled with us regardless of our two left feet, capturing His acceptance  with reckless abandonment.

What a comfort to know that this dance school drop out is free from the shame of past mistakes and labels imprinted with lies as ink. The safety of the ballet bar no longer needed beyond its’ true intent and purpose.

Clinging to Christ alone and letting go of our crutches, may “We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his doors 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”.* Today may you accept His invitation to dance, walking away from past hindrance or good intentions, stepping out into your life filled with a plethora of dreams, a gleaming new start pulsating with vibrant hope.  When you do you don’t be surprised to experience what Abba sings so poignantly that not only can  you  dance you’ll be…  “having the time of your life”.

*Rom. 5:2-4 The Message Bible.