My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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Somebunny Loves You

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Growing up, one of my all time favorite places to shop was a bargain department store called Newberry’s.  While with my mom, we would venture to their downtown Portland location, which was always a special treat for me. This particular Easter was no exception. Adding to all the excitement was my newly acquired spending money, which was burning a hole in my pocket rivaling the size of Texas.
Upon arrival, knowing that the toy department was downstairs,off I went nearly flying down the stairs excitement taking wings soaring to complete my high spirited mission! Then in a blink of an eye, there I stood. Ever so slowly  contemplating all the choices my budget would allow. Would it be a new outfit for my Barbie doll or  a playhouse broom? Oh, the possibilities!!   Then I saw them…  third aisle, the lower right hand corner of the shelf,  piled high and overflowing from the wire bins, were amazing stuffed yellow bunnies, fluffy, adorable and cute as a button.
Kneeling down, I gazed upon their faces as if to ask them which one wants to go home with me?.  Then it happened…my first encounter with a jaunty Mr. Bunny, and boy he knew how to work it.  His sweet demure made me 100% convinced he would make a lovely addition to my already charming collection of stuffed animals. Showing my mom this final decision, she looked at Mr. Bunny, an inquisitive look came across her face while asking, “are you sure you want this one, he has a mark between his ears”? Yes!,” I said  with great excitement … I was sure. My decision was a carefully chosen one, Mr. Bunny  was the one, and I loved him marks and all.
This can’t help but remind me of the following precious scripture verse in Ephesians 1:4 ” Even as in His Love He chose us actually picked us out for himself as His own in Christ before the foundation of the world , that we should be holy consecrated and set apart for Him and blameless in His sight even above reproach, before Him in Love.”

God chose you !!! He looked down from his heavenly home and says that’s the one I want, it matters not that it has a stain. I’m purchasing it with my blood that was given willingly when I died on the cross . That sin stain person belongs to me !.” John 15:16 states: We have not chosen Christ, but he has chosen you”. What a comforting thought to be selected by a merciful God  even with all our flaws. Through His gentleness and condescension He has made us great.  There is a part of me that wishes I would have saved Mr. Bunny in the keepsakes of my childhood memorabilia. He would have been a gentle reminder of how God chooses us no matter what. We don’t need to have it all together to be loved by God.
In childhood innocence, I understood that love is not picking the best or the flawless, but purely loving without conditions.  Jesus knows this about children, for He says for such is the Kingdom of God.

May we regain our childlike faith, a faith that is filled with wide eyed wonderment, in a God that has handpicked us, and who bought us with price…a price that only He could pay, to be part of His charming Kingdom.  Now that is a Deal no one can beat !!!

Heavenly Father , Thank you for your unconditional love and forgiveness  that flows freely from your throne room. How can we ever thank you for all you have done for us? Your death on the cross brought us life, your blood flowing from Calvary removed the stain of our sin and guilt.  And we were purchased out of the bargain basement of darkness into the kingdom of your glorious light . Thank you for adopting us and placing us in a body of winsome believers where I feel right at home……. Amen .


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Redefining True Beauty and Brawn

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There is no doubt in my mind that a good part portion of my life has been strongly following  what our society has focused on, whether it be outward appearances, position, or possessions.  My fragile self worth hinging vicariously on the  approval of others.  Compelling images on screen or print drove me to strive for acceptance as it  encourages the population to worship physical beauty, strength and the dew of youth.  Even  though I know Proverbs 31 tells us, “beauty is vain (because it is not lasting….” still  my past choices gave too much energy and exertion on achieving shiny bouncing hair, pearly white teeth, or  the “perfect pant size”.

Nearly 30 years ago it caused me to fall headlong into crippling eating disorder after my failed first marriage. The grip of anorexia squeezed out any of the vibrant life God had for me. Only being able to overcome its’ strong clutches through the power of my praying mother.  Within a year my eyes were opened to the devastation of what the eating disorder was doing to my body. Sadly, a few years later my poor body image reared its’ ugly head again due to my weight gain shortly after I got remarried. This time narrowly escaping a potential battle with bulimia. My husband somehow opened the bathroom door that I “knew” I had locked, he saw me leaning over the toilet to rid myself of my last meal.  This was a profound wake up call  from a gracious God sparing me from another pit of personal destruction.  After that miraculous encounter I never again struggled with any kind of eating disorder.

For the most part, we can agree there is nothing wrong with admiring external beauty or brawn, enjoying healthy hair, whiter teeth or battling the bugle. Our bodies are the temple of the Lord, and we are encouraged to take care of them.  Still, it  becomes clear that I want to shift my attention to a boarder picture of  true beauty and brawn. That which is not  highlighted in fashion nor physical fitness magazines, becoming more confident that true beauty comes from within and strength is measured beyond bulging muscles and washboard abs.  Longing to view mankind as God does, for His word says, “Man looks to the outward appearances while God looks at the heart”.  Not judging a book by its’ cover as the prophet Samuel did when on a mission to choose the next King of Israel, had it not been for the Spirit of God telling him otherwise, Samuel would have anointed the wrong man.  Almost overlooking  the ruddy David who tended sheep but had a heart for God. Once again God reveals that true “strength” and “beauty” has nothing to do with outward appearances but rather what is in the heart and spirit of a man or woman.

God applauds the stouthearted  spirit of the  elderly, the perseverance of the disabled and all those battling crippling diseases or limitations whether in mind or body. This reevaluation is pounding hard,  hitting home as I  watch a loved one’s heroic stamina tackle life.  Where walking, brushing teeth, or eating  has become laborious. This changes the face of what “powerful” really is, a rugged human spirit determined to live with dignity in spite of adversities. What I once put so much stock in has lost  its’ value challenging and rocking the very core of my flimsy standards. Smashing the idols of self worth and worldly value and realigning my perspective as to what real beauty and strength is.

The reality is we all carry within us weaknesses, scars, and flaws that reside in our heart’s and mind’s…. crippling us from soaring as God intended. A fortified internal city  masking our shortcomings and  inner wounds.  And yet God beckons us to “glory in our weakness and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell upon me”. * His power is shown up in our weaknesses.

Thank you Lord that Your love and approval does not depend on ones physical strength or outward beauty.  In fact, true strength and beauty is determined by what is on the inside of a person.  Not only that, but  your love is absolutely unconditional even in our brokenness. Redefining to a needy culture what true “Beauty and Brawn” is.

Training the body helps a little, but godly living helps in every way. Godly living has the promise of life now and in the world to come.   1  Timothy 4:8

*2 Corinthians 12:9


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Welcome Change

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While I was working with great toil to redo a garden area along the side of our house, my mind was a bevy of mixed emotions. This small area of land was my first attempt at gardening seventeen years ago, nestling next to the detached garage of our starter home. Every year I would add an extra something to enhance its’ cottage charm.   A climbing white rose, Lady’s’ Mantle from the annual Powell Valley plant sale, a blown glass snail, a birthday gift from my mama.   As our little slice of garden heaven evolved so had our home….our starter home was now becoming our “finisher home”. What once was a detached garage, has become a very attached master bedroom.
The new plans included a french door exit into a small enclosed patio adjacent to our bedroom. Hands laboring and feet planted firmly on the cold soil I slowly began removing stones that lined our pea gravel path. God’s word came to mind as I worked, “A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones”. It was now the season to cast those familiar aisle of stones once gathered from a neighbor’s yard long since moved away….it then began to hit me. It was more than just rocks, pea gravel and discounted plants dotting the small landscape. It had become part of this girls’ sentimental journey. A discovery of beauty merging out of barrenness, kindred neighbors sharing their garden treasures. Memories played in my mind with each new task of removing parts of my cherished established garden. As the day wore on my feet became frozen and my heart was feeling heavy, it was then I decided to call it a day and head for a relaxing hot shower. Hoping that my body and soul would once again feel the warm anticipation of a new patio and not be laden with increasing sadness, and the sense of loss brought on by change.
After placing my tools in the shed, I thought it would be nice to surprise my husband, by cleaning up the dogs business making it one less thing to do when he got home. Who doesn’t appreciate less poop to scoop? Grabbing a recycled plastic grocery bag from a decorative mail box where they’re stored, I quickly opened the bag my eyes widened as I spotted a single fortune from a cookie. This was the only tangible evidence from our delightful Kung Pao chicken we enjoyed weeks earlier. . Placing one of my muddy garden gloves in the bag I pulled it out and read the only two words that graced the slender white paper….there in small black type were the words “Welcome Change”. These powerful words warmed my chilly soul. Leave it to God to show up in the most creative places. Proving Himself to be faithful as He has promised again and again lest we forget. Friends are you facing change today? Perhaps not just small changes but big life changes. I know for me, my changes extend far beyond the borders of my tiny disrupted garden. Change at times can be an unwelcome guest forcing us to shift, transform and adapt to a “new normal”. With the Lord’s unwavering help I’m learning how to navigate my only sibling’s diagnosis of early onset Dementia, my mothers dementia & congestive heart failure. Now, adding into the mix is our first-born son preparing to leave the nest into his newly purchased home…all the while I’m hormonally challenged! There is a whole lot of changes going on !!!
Whatever you are facing you can be confidant God has it covered. Join me in taking comfort in a God that does not change, He remains the same, and never fails us. He is always faithful and pours out His everlasting love and mercy to us daily. His love will see you through every challenging situation. His word is a shield to all who put their trust in Him. My prayer is that today He surprise you with joy in the most unexpected places.
Lord, Thank you for your unchanging love, where there is no variation, rising or setting or shadow cast by your turning. Seasons change from springtime to harvest but your steadfast love remains the same. You, oh Lord, have appointed the moon for the seasons, the sun knows the exact time of its’ setting. From glory to glory changing us while you are unwavering, timeless, your truths transforming us as we yield to your perfect plan for our lives. Thank you for truth that sets us free that we may embrace change knowing whether it’s big or small you can handle it all .
Psalms 102:27 “You remain the same ,and your years will never end”‘
Malachi 3:6 “For I am the Lord , I change not”.


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Kind Words Never Hurt

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The older I have gotten the more I have found names like Sweetie, or Dear rolling off my tongue to complete strangers…women mind you.  And if by chance I’m fortunate enough to be your friend your name might  become Sweet Pea, Honey Bunny, Pumpkin or other smattering terms of endearment. Perhaps this has been handed down from my mother who gushes praises over every sales clerk or anyone for that matter that has shown her kindness… primarily referring to them as  “Dear Heart”.   Recently, quite unintentionally, she upped her repertoire by calling Alena one of her sweet caregivers a “Beautiful Babe”, causing the three of us to giggle.   

Years earlier, I was less then thrilled when mom would declare her glowing praises and pet names to almost everyone she encountered.  Allowing my schedule, or pressures of life to override my thoughts rather than taking the time to linger with the kind words she had spoken.  This is not to say my heart wasn’t inclined to do so, I was just unequipped to rival my mom’s steroid induced hoopla and fanfare. Choosing not to exercise my puny praise physique preferring to risk the possibility of getting sand kicked on it instead.  

Now that I’m older, I want to strengthen my love and build up my gratitude toward others carrying the torch and legacy of her exuberant encouragement.  A woman  who lights up faces as she sings their praises, who calls them “Dear Heart” and means it!  

So it’s no surprise, the thrill my soul received to be called “Love Muffin” the other day by Judy, an adorable elderly door greeter and checker at Walmart. It felt like a comforting hug from my mom who rarely shops with me due to her health challenges. This warmhearted sentiment seems like the perfect name to call my husband, causing me to smile all the way to the return line.  My heart was hoping to see her again so that I could let her know how much her affectionate name blessed me.

Finally, everything on my list was ready to be purchased, rolling up to the self checkout registers with no helpers in sight caused me to feel some apprehension…. it seems like I always need assistance with these “self  checkouts” I forged ahead very timidly and began unloading my cart.  Just when I lifted my honeysuckle candle to scan, there she was right next to me commenting on the lovely color.  My excitement bubbled up over this divine opportunity to see Judy again.  Because of her comment about the candle I raised it up for her to smell the heady aroma… once again she expressed a beautiful array of fond words, calling me Angel and Love while greeting other shoppers with equally amicable sentimentality. After bagging my last item I longed to hug her, adopt her, load her up in my cart and take her home… she touched my life, making me feel like I mattered.

Oh, the undeniable power of a kind word!  Like a warm embrace on a chilly winter day or an unexpected cool breeze on a balmy summer night.  Simple acts of kindness to those who cross our paths can invigorate and refresh their spirit and ours. God’s word tells us those who refresh others will too be refreshed. My mother understood that and displayed it beautifully throughout the years, even now still staying true to this while in the midst of her battle with Dementia.

Perhaps “Love Muffin” is not part of your amorous vocabulary especially if you were to say it to someone you don’t even know, but let’s be open to sharing kind words and gestures to those we come into contact, whether family, friends, or strangers. You’ll be a “Dear Heart” if you do.

Lord help the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable to you oh Lord our Rock and Redeemer. May we love as you love and speak with tones of grace and gratitude.* “Thinking of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds”.

* Heb. 10:24

Proverbs 25:11  “A word fitly spoken, and in due season is like apples of gold in settings of silver”‘
     Though I was not able to get a photo with Judy, the top picture is me and my mama on her 80th birthday.

 


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Treasures of the Snow

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Earlier this year my husband  and I were blessed by our dear friends the Saint’s proving their namesake by taking us to  play in the snow at Mt. Hood Timberline Lodge. Though this majestic mountain is only hour away from home, it only took us 26 years to get there to enjoy it!  It was a delightful day from start to finish and a stunning reminder that God pulled out all the stops on showcasing His creation of Mt. Hood….the wow factor was simply off the charts.
 
My heart was taken back to a time I had pondered Job’s question regarding snow… here are a few of my thoughts about it.
 “Have you entered into the treasures of the Snow?”    Job 38:22
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God’s word speaks of it,  His glorious handiwork declaring  its’ beauty and wonder.
Snowflakes form around a speck of dust  that get carried up into the atmosphere by the wind.  A water crystal develops  becoming  His  unique  one-of-a kind  creation, as so with His  children–no two exactly alike.  
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This peaceful, tranquil,  fresh-fallen snow  that  quietly covers the dirt and soiled earth.  Dazzling it in a brilliant blanket of purity and innocent gleam.  Making God’s secret place of the snow  a storehouse of His truths and a flurry of His promises. 

Psalms 51:7  says, “Cleanse me with the hyssop and I will be clean, wash me and I shall  (in reality) be whiter then snow.”

Isaiah 55:10-11  states  “For as rain and snow come down from heaven …. so God’s word does not come back void but accomplishes that which it was sent to do.”

So, before the winter is past and  and spring has sprung, let us wrap up our winter  lingering in His treasures. 17 days of winter wonder still to go,  I say  Lord … Let it Snow,  Let it Snow,  Let it Snow!