My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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Thug Alley

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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

 


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What the Beep?

silhouette photography of group of people jumping during golden time

The beautiful stately beach house stood perched on a hill with sweeping panoramic views, this lovely rental was our new location for our annual “Hugs” Bible study retreat. Bea our fearless coordinator for the yearly trip painstakingly peruses the internet for a home that can accommodate up to 11 ladies, easy beach access, comfy interior surroundings, all without costing us an arm and a leg. Along with her spearheading all the necessary incidentals and food with which has rivals an all you can eat buffet; a job that is not for the faint at heart!

At this particular home Bea’s concern was not only the limited parking but the steepness of the hill on which we needed to park. Due to the confined space, I offered to use my trusty 7 passenger van for a carpool. It had been years since I had volunteered and though I’m not a big fan of driving to places less traveled, I thought this would be a jolly good time to do it. Conquering fear and trepidation with a van full of loving gracious souls that will pray with a passion is a guaranteed recipe for overcoming life’s challenges.

The ride there was delightful with lots of laughs, our traditional stop at Annette’s for lunch, and before you knew it we were beginning to ascent up the steep hill to our home away from home in Lincoln City. Upon arrival we realized the hill was indeed steep, the road narrow, and the website toting three car parking actually translated into one car needed to be that of a circus clown. Overshadowing all these minor details was a glorious home beckoning us to open the door to savor the treasures inside. Giddy we unloaded the cars, settled into our cozy rooms, and embraced the ocean front views the steep hill brought us  to.

That weekend was a rich time of sharing a temporary home with such remarkable women,  who love God with such fervor and unwavering devotion. Unfolding before my eyes, was their tremendous love and care for their families and friends; a glorious enduring display of grace and unconditional love. With a steadfast commitment to weather life’s storms, confident in a Savior that calms every tempest that crashes against their souls. Such a relaxing and inspirational getaway that always ends far to quickly.

Such was the case as we bustled about on our final day packing up our belongings and tidying up the rental, quickly gathering for our customary group photo. Closing our splendid time with a prayer and the traditional hootenanny (that is worthy of a story all on it’s own ) we hugged and said our goodbyes.  In all the reveries of this weekend I seem to have forgot that I parked up the hill even further to allow friends who arrived later to park in the driveway. With that realization came some apprehension of backing out of such tight conditions. Saying a quite prayer to myself my traveling buddies Lynn and Susy piled into the car. Backing up with a, “I got this attitude”, I no sooner heard a loud and disturbing crunch. I had backed into a wood pile and bottomed out the car.  With each new attempt I tried, I could not get past the obstacle. By then Liz and Sharon seeing my need approached the van, Liz fearlessly guiding the front of my car with Sharon courageously  navigating the back.  All the while the vans tires were losing traction and spinning, as our ultra sensitive backup warning signal that beeps at the detection of an ant beneath it  beeped incessantly at this added intrusion.  The rain poured down drenching my friends, my nerves unraveling at each unsuccessful jockeying for position, with the help of encouraging  prayerful copilots and  Liz and Sharon’s enduring patience and loving guidance I was finally able me to get enough traction to pull up and away from the impediment.

Isn’t that a picture of God’s love?  Tireless, unwavering love that guides us through storms while taking the brunt to bring our freedom ,cheering us on with passionate encouragement, awakening our souls to a hope that does not disappoint just like His word promises.

I am eternally grateful for God’s redemption that has saved me from the depths of despair, His love radically changed me and continues to every time I chose to embrace Him.

This profound love gift is also wrapped up in our family and friends that come along side to partner with us in life’s ups and downs. When emotional wheels spin and obstacles prevent us from experiencing His peace and purposes for our lives, Christ through them becomes the traction to propel us to our destiny .

My heart exceedingly rejoices in His tremendous unfailing love, the freedom found and the promise of more. The beautiful gifts of family and friends are heart strings of grace to the tune of God’s melodious love. A harmonious antidote to the incessant clamor of  those ever intrusive beeps of life.

“I thank my God every time I remember you.In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy”  Philippians 1:1-4


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Getting Your Bearings

ball shaped balls fun games

Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

Ever have one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days just like Alexander, or at the very least a day that you rolled out of bed planting your feet firmly on the wrong side. Those days when life seems off, your connection with God lack luster, and the cares of the world are in an all out brawl to swallow up your joy. Even though I know God’s word tells us, “This is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it.”* Rejoicing in the midst of challenging circumstances takes work! Encountering days of all sunshine and roses presents easy peasy rejoicing that rolls off my tongue almost effortlessly; opposed to the contrast of rejoicing through hardship, set backs and disappointment. How I long to walk with more appreciation every single day, living in the life’s moments thanking God for what He offers me.
Allowing God’s truths to create deep roots, strengthening my trust in Him as it chokes out the relentless worries that cloud His far grandeur purpose. Choosing to count it all joy as I calculate with Heavenly mathematics rather then worldly equations. Banking on the truth that God is in the business of dividing our sorrows and multiplying our joys, turning our hardships into hallelujahs. These heartfelt desires the Lord longs for us to possess in  far greater dimensions then we could ever imagine. For His word tells us that He came, “that we may have life and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

God is ever so faithful to keep me on the right path revealing His deep and unfailing love even when I flounder in my faith, doubt Him, myself or a myriad of other things that can rob my joy and peace. Recently, I felt that love in a tangible way with a hug to my heart from the throne room, delightfully bringing a touch of heaven on earth. On this particular stressful day a series of circumstances led to an all too familiar and unwelcome companion, a burdensome yoke called “people pleasing”; its’ pressure digging deep into my soul. Somehow this unwanted formidable foe sneaked in the back door of my stressful day, hanging his hat on my weariness and his coat on my well worn emotional peg. Hoping to cozy up for a long stay.
And now a normally pleasant walk was suddenly turning rather unpleasant with my   twirling mind of self doubt! With each step I wallowed in guilt and condemnation, forgoing even a glimmer of positive self talk that could talk me off the ledge; which at that point seemed like too much extra work. Instead I forged ahead an all too familiar well traveled rut, that led me into a full blown pity party! Heck, why not I already had gotten the persuasive invitation. Keeping my head down  with no party hat in sight I trudged up a hill while beads of perspiration collected on my furrowed brow. Just when my head felt like it could hang no lower without scraping on a tree root, all of the sudden I saw a glass marble nestled in the green grass. A beautiful shiny clear orb with a chartreuse swish of color in the center… it absolutely stopped me in my tracks picking it up with delight. Giddy I held it up with admiration, my heart flooded with childlike wonder as the weight of guilt and condemnation was exchanged for joy coming in the smallest form. After admiring this spherical wonder for several moments I tucked it into my pocket while sensing the Lord lovingly saying to me, “be childlike Lisa, enjoy the moment, the beauty, and don’t worry about “pleasing people.”

Like a tiny mustard seed telling a mountain to be cast into the sea, this tiny glass orb changed the atmosphere toward a richer love for God, myself and others. Allowing me to refocus, enjoy the journey, and its’ new fresh perspective. All in that in the tiniest of packages.
As glorious as this revelation was, I found myself in need of another teachable moment soon afterwards. Recently, after coming home one day, I was astounded to see a fire truck, and firemen putting out a neighbors house that evidently had been burning 15 mins prior. Though I was thankful to hear that everyone in their household was safe including their pets.  While grieving for their loss, I also became sad and sentimental for our neighborhood of 24 yrs. For many years this particular house held fond memories of our boys childhood friends that lived there. Countless stories of 5 boys leaving their joyful mark on our little community with all their… ahem, “creativity.” My heart was heavy as I walked to our son’s house a block away to check on it as a precautionary measure.

Grappling with unsettling emotions I tried to get my bearings in all this upheaval surrounding our neighborhood. Once again, I found myself gazing at the ground, head hung low as I walked back home, when suddenly I saw a shiny ball bearing. I quickly picked it up only to walk a couple more steps and spotted another one, a few more steps and yet another!

Ball bearings are known for allowing movement, while reducing friction and handling stress. This gentle reminder revealed that I had lost my “faith bearings.” Allowing stress, fear, and loss to steer me off course of walking in His truth that “He works out all things for good to those that love Him.” God in His patience and loving ways lifted my spirits  afresh in a tangible way to place in my pocket and nestle in my heart.

Thank you God that you are the glory and the lifter of my head and because of you  “… we walk with uplifted faces” Psalm 89:17 Amp

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28 The Message (MSG)